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Why Two California Indian Tribes are Growing Their Own Food, and Why It Isn’t Easy

Watch Tending the Wild: Decolonizing the Diet.

Big Pine Reservation’s Sustainable Foods Program and Bishop Paiute Tribe’s Food Sovereignty Program

By Clarissa Wei
Nov 21, 2016


Big Pine Paiute-Shoshone tribe member Joseph Miller shows me around his town’s garden. There are two hoop houses with herbs and fresh heads of lettuce just popping out of the ground. Tomatoes are in abundance, with so many hybrid varieties that it’s hard to keep track.

“What we’re working towards is being able to not only create a sustainable food source, but to create food security,” Miller says. “We want to give our people the right to know without being in the dark and wary about where their food is coming from, or how long it’s been on a truck.”

Miller is the community garden specialist of the Big Pine Reservation’s Sustainable Foods Program. Launched in 2012, the farming project spans roughly six acres. There are grand stalks of glass corn outside, but most of the food right now is confined to the hoop houses. Winter is coming and the plants are bracing for the cold.

Seventeen miles north, the Bishop Paiute Tribe has a similar program. Dubbed the Food Sovereignty Program, it features two lots that total half an acre and an acre respectively. At the half-acre lot, the harvesting season has just come to a close. There are beans, basil, tomatoes, swiss chard, and eggplants. Long pink stalks of amaranth have just been picked — the seeds can be used to make flour or popped, like popcorn.

Read the complete article here.