Native American farm's growth helps to feed community

Jessika Greendeer at Dream of Wild Health
Jessika Greendeer, who is seed keeper and farm manager for Dream of Wild Health, gives a lesson to visiting youth in a past growing season at the farm in Hugo, Minn.
Courtesy Dream of Wild Health

While some businesses have put growth plans on hold during the pandemic, a Native American farm took the opposite tack.

Dream of Wild Health decided to expand to feed people struggling in the pandemic and produced more than 1 ton of vegetables, fruit and other goods for donation to people in the Indigenous community.

“Our community that we work with is already in need of more healthy produce and after the pandemic and George Floyd uprising, we really recognized that it was critical for us to be able to provide more healthy foods into the community,” said Neely Snyder, executive director of Dream of Wild Health.

Dream of Wild Health volunteers
Dream of Wild Health volunteers work with squash plants during a past growing season at the farm in Hugo, Minn. The Twin Cities-based Native American nonprofit has expanded its farm from 10 to 30 acres.
Courtesy Dream of Wild Health

From scaling up the farm’s acreage in Hugo, to launching an online store, Dream of Wild Health extended its reach. That was challenging for workers.

“Initially when the stay at home order came down we had all taken turns coming out to the farm because we were all so afraid to come into contact with one another. We farmed in the cold and in the heat with masks,” said Jessika Greendeer, the seed keeper and farm manager.

“People are able to preorder different vegetables from us and pick them up from the farmers market. So, we’ve done a lot with looking at contactless deliveries for this year during the pandemic,” Greendeer said.

As the growing season’s peak recedes, the farm leaders are reviewing designs for 20 newly acquired acres to be used in community and youth programs.

Snyder says they plan to add greenhouses for seasonal extension, a commercial kitchen to provide a space for farmers to cook, a gathering space for the community and additional outdoor growing space. 

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