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Growing Food Sovereignty The Meskwaki Way

Spinster Cardigan

The Meskwaki people have worked very hard to preserve their history, protect their culture, and reclaim their heritage. The Meskwaki Agriculture and Food Sovereignty Initiative is one of the latest projects designed to reconnect and preserve the Meskwaki historical culture and empower modern Meskwaki people. 

On this edition of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe is joined by Shelley Buffalo, Local Foods Coordinator of the Meskwaki Food Sovereignty Initiative and Grant Shaaden, Farm Production Manger at Red Earth Gardens, a farm and garden project located on the Meskwaki settlement. Red Earth Gardens is now distributing a wide variety of produce, including foods specific to Meskwaki culture, in communities near the Meskwaki Settlement, as well as Marshalltown and Iowa City through a newly designed online marketplace.

During the program, Nebbe and guests discuss how these programs like Red Earth Gardens and the Food Sovereignty Initiative are working to support food sovereignty and cultural resilience across the Meskwaki community.

“For the Meskwaki, our foods are tied into every aspect of our culture,” says Buffalo. “We can’t really practice our religious ceremonies without them.” 

Richard Elm-Hill, Program Officer at First Nation Development Institute, focusing on native agriculture and food systems initiative, also joins the conversation ahead of the organization's annual Food Sovereignty Summit, which is planned for September 23-26 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.


Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa