In late 2020, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians approached DCB with a proposal to work together regarding NRCS practices. Keith Knudson, Horticulture Department Chair, Sheldon Thomas, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians grant project manager and Zoee St. Claire, Food Sovereignty Program Coordinator met multiple times throughout the end of 2020 until April 2021 to discuss what practices could be covered and field days for participants to gain some knowledge. The participants included tribal farmers and other tribal members who are interested in NRCS practices.
In May 2021, DCB demonstrated soil sampling on two field locations. These samples were submitted to a lab for results and once the results came back, Keith gave Zoee recommendations on how to meet the nutrient needs of these locations. In July 2021, DCB held a field day for the participants regarding different practices such as raising vegetables in open fields and high tunnels, different types of irrigation and water issues, different types of mulches, cover crop practices, food safety practices and how to cover a high tunnel.
This year, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians has a few field days in mind that they want to do with DCB. These will take place at two separate locations and one will be based on sustainable practices and the second will be a community-based garden which would include high tunnels. Both of these locations would be educationally based and be available for all tribal members! During these field days, the study will be based on hemp production and growth. There will be 3 separate studies; one based on CBD, one based on carbon sequestering and one on commercial-based hemp fiber. With the help of Keith Knudson, who has been participating in hemp trials for the past two years, Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians will get firsthand knowledge of hemp production & practices, issues that can arise, and solutions on how to fix said issues. In these field days, DCB will discuss fertilizer rates, weed protection, hemp transplanting methods, hemp cannabinoid cultivars and their resistance to pests, flowering periods, plant structure, THC testing, flower maturity, plant morphology, harvesting methods, cannabinoid levels, CO2 extraction and the decarboxylation process. These are practices that Keith has been working on at his own farm as well as on DCB campus.
“I really think this collaboration has been a huge help! I really like working with Keith and Apryl. They have been amazing answering any questions we come up with.” Apryl Mawby, Specialty Crop Technician for Dakota College, will be working closely with Zoee in the upcoming months regarding planting practices, preparing soil and pest management. “A lot of people on the reservation have not heard of other alternative ways to grow, they only know to put a seed into the ground, water it and that’s it. This partnership can help bridge that lack of knowledge” states Zoee. Apryl will also be helping Zoee with growing natural medicines such as cedar, tobacco, sweetgrass and sage which will be planted in a garden inside a geodome that
the tribe has purchased. According to Keith, “I’m really excited to be working with Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. This is a great time to collaborate with each other and to give the tribal members more resources that they may not have had access to before.”
Breanna Blue, ECH Administrative Assistant
Dakota College at Bottineau is always extremely busy during this time of the year from wrapping up the semester, to finals, to graduation. The DCB Greenhouse is also busy getting plants ready for this spring. These will be used for landscaping around the campus, City of Bottineau planters, plant sales and harvesting vegetables later in the summer and fall months. In March, the DCB Greenhouse Manager position opened up so there have been a lot more tasks that need to be completed by other individuals. The practicum students have stepped up to help stay on top of things and a work study student has also been helping out as well. According to one of the practicum students, Jess McInnes, “not having Apryl’s knowledge and guidance on a daily basis has been tough, but we have a really great and hardworking team of students and workers to manage things.” Some of the tasks that the practicum students have taken on include seeding, transplanting, managing the aquaponics system, editing the collection of houseplants and cleaning. Another practicum student, Eric Hildebrand, has started learning more specific skills such as understanding the requirements for specific plants and how they can vary in what they need during the seeding and transplanting process. With the Greenhouse Manager position being vacant, the students have had to take the initiative to problem solve and manage their time and learning. By doing this, they are also getting some real-world experience that will be helpful with their future career paths. The students are learning from trial and error which, according to Jess, is one of the best ways to learn and gain experience.
The next big project that the students are going to take on include landscaping by the new dining center on campus. While the weather has not been in their favor, they have been doing a lot inside which include maintaining a thorough seeding and transplanting schedule for landscaping, vegetable gardens and retail purposes. They have started downsizing the mature plant collection and propagating new plants. Overgrown plants have been cleared out to make room for the new plants. In the aquaponics greenhouse, spring cleaning has taken place as well to make room for a new crop of watermelons, peppers, cucumbers, and strawberries.
Breanna Blue, ECH Administrative Assistant
In 2018, Dakota College at Bottineau received the Farmers Market Promotional Program Grant. The purpose of this grant was to increase the capacity of North Dakota Farmers Markets. There was a challenge, however. It was found that North Dakota’s rural volunteer-run farmers markets lack the time, resources, and training to effectively meet increased consumer demand. One of the objectives of this grant was to provide a Farmers Market Marketing Workshop to incorporate the findings of the marketing needs assessment and learnings from the project. This workshop would also provide advanced marketing strategies for farmers market managers.
This workshop was held on March 15th, 2022 via Zoom. Dakota College’s, Quinn Renfandt, partnered with the Dakota Resource Council to put the workshop together and to get the word out. Not only was the workshop held via Zoom, it was also published in 145 different media publications between March 16th and March 22nd. Thanks to the work of Quinn Renfandt and Dakota Resource Council, the information in this workshop reached approximately 1.1 million people!
The workshop called upon the community leaders to come together and learn how they may have a role within the Farmers Markets around North Dakota. New approached to strengthen the community development function of Farmers Markets and equipping stakeholders with a course of action for the future was introduced. Two keynote speakers had some great information for the participants. Dr. Becca Jablonski, assistant professor and food systems economist, focuses on understanding processes of rural and regional development with an emphasis on identifying strategies to support entrepreneurship, improve agribusiness performance and enhance regional food systems. During the workshop she talked about her personal research in local food system economics. Simone Wai, community builder and co-founder of Folkways, uses immersive experiences to solve problems in the community like workforce retention, economic vitality, and communal belonging. During the workshop, Simone talked about the Red River Market in Fargo and the impact it has on the local economy. There was also an open mic panel where Jonathan Moser, a local vendor in Bismarck, talked about the needs of vendors for a more diverse leadership team for running farmers Markets.
According to Quinn, “by showing how the farmers market is part of a larger regional food system, then bringing to light a real world example right here in our region and bringing it full circle with a vendors perspective calling leaders to action, the workshop brought forth the potential of North Dakota Farmers Markets.”
Breanna Blue, ECH Administrative Assistant
Breanna Blue is the Administrative Assistant for the Entrepreneurial Center for Horticulture at Dakota College at Bottineau. She has an Associates Degree in Caregiver Services, a Bachelors Degree in Business Management and several certifications.