Meskwaki Nation building a local food system

TAMA, Iowa — The Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi/Meskwaki Nation is building a local food system through its Meskwaki Food Sovereignty Initiative.

Central to that initiative is Red Earth Gardens, an organic farm that completed its second year of operation.

Larry Lasley, director of economic development at the Meskwaki Settlement, said the farm is an example of the settlement’s efforts to diversify its economic interests. Others are Meskwaki Bingo Casino Hotel, the Trading Post, a convenience store along Highway 30, and Pinnacle Bank.

“When I started in 2010, one of the initial projects I was given was local foods planning,” Lasley said.

Jennifer Vasquez joined him in 2011 as a local foods planner, and the concept for an organic farm took shape. Vasquez now manages Red Earth Gardens.

“We’ve enjoyed a lot of support from our tribal council and a fair amount of support from the community,” Lasley said. “We are building a business model with this organic farm and we hope to continue growing our education and awareness with regard to local foods.”

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