In August 2016, Agriculture Program Manager Wally Ransom participated in the Akwesasne Farmers Co-op’s first meeting to discuss how their once productive farmlands are now wetlands due to drainage ditches first dug in the 1930’s being blocked by beaver dams. Representatives from the Cook, White, Lazore, Ransom, Boots, Connors, Gray, Oakes and Herne families will be working in cooperation with the Tribe’s Agriculture Program to reclaim flooded lands. Combined, they farm more than 1,500 acres of land in Akwesasne’s southern portion. (Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Hoover)
Launches ‘ditching’ project in cooperation with Akwesasne Farmers Co-op
Published March 4, 2017
AKWESASNE — The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Agriculture Program is pleased to announce the continuation of several pilot projects and the implementation of a new one for the coming season. Now in its second year, the Program will resume its garden tilling service for community members and the Mother Earth Eggs project with Akwesasne youth, as well as oversee an initiative to help recover flooded growing areas in cooperation with the local farmer’s cooperative.
“Agriculture is an important aspect of our cultural identity that we are seeking to reinvigorate and the work of our Agriculture Program is an endeavor that the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is proud to offer to the community” said Tribal Chief Eric Thompson. “This is a great opportunity to help our families get back to growing and interacting with one other and the land once more within their own family gardens”
Overseen by the Tribe’s Environment Division, the program was developed in March 2016 to help stimulate interest in producing naturally grown foods as part of an ongoing effort to promote a healthier lifestyle for the Akwesasne community. The first project it undertook was to help residents in the southern portion of Akwesasne prepare for the growing season by doing garden tilling. The service will be provided once more, as well as assistance in answering garden-related questions, and can be arranged by calling the Environment Division at (518) 358-5937.
The Agriculture Program is also continuing with Mohawk Earth Eggs that is being done in coordination with eight (8) Akwesasne youth between the ages of 14-17, with a few more students possibly joining this spring. Last fall, each youth received upwards of 100 chickens each, as well as a chicken coop and other supplies, to help teach them all aspects of egg production. It has proven successful, with their eggs now available for purchase at Three Feathers Internet Café, Twin Leaf Convenience & Gas, Akwesasne Mini-Mart and TNT Deli.
“We’re proud of the project’s success and the hard work that each of our community’s youth have put into their own flock’s production,” said Agriculture Program Manager Wally Ransom. He noted, “The project’s goal was to not lose our connection with the land and to help our community get back to agriculture in a healthy way, beginning with our youth. I’m looking forward to evaluating its success and helping to extend it following its initial two-year period.”
This season, the Agriculture Program will also be continuing an original project designed to assist our local farmer that entail clearing two existing drainage ditches. This effort was developed in collaboration with the new Akwesasne Farmers Co-op, which is a consortium of local farmers that began meeting in August 2016 to discuss wetland problems. Together, local farmers and the Agriculture Program Manager have prioritized two ditches for clearing that will provide the most benefit to farmland.
“This effort with our local farmers is consistent with our strategic plan to engage in collaborative community development with our members in meeting our ongoing growth and development needs,” said Executive Director Tsiorasa Barriero. “The agricultural projects are doing that by enabling us to work together in building a healthy future for the Akwesasne community.”
Another program involving the Agriculture Program, though on a small scale at this time, is the collection of food waste from the Akwesasne Mohawk Casino Resort and tobacco waste from Native Trading. Its development is still in progress, but when fully implemented will help provide compost and other valuable soil amendments needed to produce naturally grown, organic foods for local consumption.
For more information on the Agriculture Program, please call the Environment Division at (518) 358-5937 or visit their offices located at the Akwesasne Business Center, 449 Frogtown Road in Akwesasne, NY.