It is our desire to actualize food sovereignty and to work towards becoming food secure as a Tribe. One of our projects leading this charge is operating our 700 square foot ecologically designed, semi-renewably heated and powered greenhouse. Our goal for the greenhouse is for it to serve as a year-round herb, vegetable, berry and flower production facility providing fresh produce to Tribal and community members.
In 2005 Chickaloon Village, with funding from First Nations Development Institute (FNDI), and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), constructed the 4-season greenhouse to grow and sell fresh produce year-round as part of our Sustainable Foods Initiative. Since construction began we have received funding from Alaska Market Place, IGAP and CVTC Discretionary for the purchase and installation of our renewable energy system including 4 photovoltaic panels, a battery bank, inverter, a tower to mount our wind turbine and a small electric hot water tank. Unfortunately, due to increases in construction costs and budget cuts we no longer have funding for our Sustainable Foods Coordinator and were not able to purchase and install the full renewable energy system as originally designed.
We believe our project is highly innovative in that we are increasing local food production and consumption with the purpose of improving community health. We understand many health related problems for all people center on dietary changes associated with no longer eating Traditional-bioregional foods reflected in the obesity, cancer, allergy and diabetes epidemics. To effect healthful change we seek to help community members shift to a diet based on bioregional foods and balanced nutrition. The greenhouse will increase community members’ knowledge of and access to nutritious high quality local foods.
We view this project as a model project other rural communities could replicate. The key to our success will be the involvement of Tribal citizens, community members, Elders and the self sufficient nature of the building itself. While working on the project community members will have the opportunity to learn new skills such as seedling production and transplanting, greenhouse environmental management, garden design, landscaping, as well as renewable energy systems design and management, ecological building techniques, and year-round nursery management.
All those involved will have the opportunity to work on a variety of different jobs that will in the future provide for future employment opportunities.