Shea Norris - Sovereign Seeds & Starts

Shea Norris, team – Ben Shleffar and Chr – Sovereign Seeds & Starts

Date grant awarded: March 2019

The aim of Sovereign Seeds & Starts is to improve the health of present and future generations of Native Americans living in an urban area and to preserve traditional Native farming practices and plant foods, herbs, and medicines used. We have an organically grown seed garden that solely grows heritage, non-GMO, Native American plant seeds. We grow these seeds to be disbursed at Native American community social and cultural events, at no cost, except for donations, if individuals are willing to give. We offer them so that Natives will learn to garden and grow these nutritious first foods for themselves. We give out information about the kind of plant it is and how to grow and harvest it.

Native people have chronic and critical health problems, most based on their diet and lack of access to nutritious foods. Historically, Native people did not have health issues because of what they ate and being overweight was not as big of an issue as it is now. This was because the foods that they used came from the land and the areas where they lived. When Native people adopted a colonized diet is when diet-related illnesses skyrocketed to the epidemic proportions it is now. Another important thing is the cultural knowledge that we teach the youth and community about what Native foods are and the traditions around using them.

When we first got the grant we were able to repair our garden beds and protect them from pests and animals in an environmentally sound way. We also enriched and amended the soil, which allowed us to have a successful garden project from the very beginning and engage the youth.

With the follow up grant we will be able to train two or more Native youth from the community to learn traditional Native American farming techniques with other Native people from all over the world. This will allow us to expand this knowledge in our community and to train young people in these traditions so they are carried on to future generations.

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