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
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.