Come March 2021, Yurok Agricultural Corporation will be the supplier of locally sourced, non-GMO vegetables, vegetable starts and seeds.
The agricultural division of the Yurok Tribe, the largest Tribe in California, has purchased 26 acres of land to develop a culturally relevant food sovereignty program.
Previously owned by the Weitchpec Nursery, the property is a prime location for the Tribe to grow food and generate reservation-based jobs for the community.
“Weitchpec Nursery was the premier supplier of flower and vegetable starts in the Humboldt County region for many decades. When the owners retired the community lost jobs and revenue from that business,” says Toby Vanlandingham, President of Yurok Agricultural Corporation (YAC). “The Yurok Agricultural Corporation has an opportunity to once again bring that business back into the community to stimulate economic growth, create decent paying jobs, and to assist residents with becoming self-sustaining by growing their own food,” Vanlandingham continued.
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The coronavirus-pandemic has underscored the essential nature of micro agriculture and food sovereignty in rural communities. Yurok Agricultural Corporation’s food sovereignty program will educate Yurok Reservation residents on cultivating and sustaining a healthy and culturally centered food system.
In 2017, the entire Yurok Reservation was declared a food desert by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While grants were injected to stimulate a reservation-based farm-to-home program, no solid foundation has been established.
That’s all changing now, according to Madison Green, Secretary of the Board. “The purpose of the Yurok Agricultural Corporation is to develop agricultural economic resources and to maximize revenue derived from such resources on behalf of the Tribe and its members, this project falls directly in line with our core mission as a company and will benefit our people for decades to come,” she said.
The program will offer plant starts and garden supplies, “as well as creating a farmers marketplace and an outlet to local area stores with quality vegetables at affordable prices,” says the YAC Vice President Edward “Horse” Aubrey. “I’ve been a staunch supporter of Yurok people maintaining true sovereignty by growing their own medicine and food, so when Toby brought this idea to the table it was a no-brainer — power to the people.”
Ultimately, grant-funded programs are not the answer. Yurok Agricultural Corporation will build something sustainable, now and for future generations, Vanlandingham said.