Indigenous Harvest School

Posted October 29th, 2015 by VCIH

a workshop with Dr. Frederick Wiseman, Peggy Fullerton and Cheryl O’Neil
Saturday, November 7th 9am – 6pm
$80/$70 for members

A full day of educational activities that include a tour of ancient Native  American  domesticated  and  wild  crops  used  by  the Abenakis and their Wabanaki neighbors; drying and storing the Harvest; heritage seeds and  Native-style  seed saving, with  tips on  how  to  create  a  Wabanaki – themed  harvest  feast  with commercially available foods.   Also, videos showing Abenaki harvest music, dance and celebration will be shown.

Since 2011, the Seeds of Renewal Project, located in Swanton, Vermont has tracked down and gathered over 25 unusual crops that evidence suggests were grown by the Wabanaki People (the Abenakis, Penobscots, Passamaquoddies, Maliseets and Micmacs).  In 2013, we began growing and offering seed to regional Native American communities.  Today, this seed is grown and conserved by aboriginals in Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Quebec and New Brunswick.

Recently, there has been a growing public interest in Seeds of Renewal crops, seed saving, gardening techniques, agricultural music, dance, celebration, as well as Native-style cooking and cuisine.  K-12 teachers are excited about incorporating Indigenous crops into their new school gardens; and horticultural information into the Farm to School curricula.  Innovative Chefs are interested in exploring the potentials of using ingredients that date back hundreds to thousands of years in the Far Northeast.  Tribal Citizens strive to reconnect with the foods and foodways of their ancestors.  Political activists interested in food justice, Native American rights, food security, and sustainable agriculture clamor for more factual information upon which to base their campaigns.  Alternative agriculturalists interested in sustainable, organic and permacultural crops and cropping seek Indigenous seed and techniques to help them stay at the cutting edge of their craft.  And of course, the general public has always shown an interest in the region’s first peoples. October’s Columbus Day and November’s Thanksgiving have become a time for contemplation and occasional controversy concerning the history and role of Native Peoples in modern American society.  The Harvest School will bring Euroamerica and Native America together at this special time in a gathering of sharing to learn about the Indigenous Bounty of the Far Northeast.

The Indigenous Harvest School brings together a cadre of teachers, health professionals, farmers and chefs from Vermont’s State-Recognized Abenaki tribes to share the science, history and art of a local harvest tradition that is thousands of years old.  The School combines illustrated lectures, hands-on lab experiences, music, video and storytelling to bring the history and culture of Wabanaki food to life.

Students will bring away a deep time understanding of Wabanaki food systems and how to adapt them to a modern world.

Professor Frederick Wiseman, Missisquoi Abenaki Citizen, trained as a  paleo-ethnobiologist at the University of Arizona is the foremost expert on  past and present Wabanaki crops and agriculture, with many public presentations, scholarly and popular book chapters and articles on the subject.  In 2014, Wiseman received the first ever Lifetime Achievement Award from the Vermont Abenaki Artist’ Association, where he is a
“Master Artist.”

Peggy Fullerton is a Koasek Abenaki elder and leader who sits on their Elders’ Council, as well as their “White Pine Association” nonprofit’s Board of Directors.  Peggy runs Sagakwa Farm in Piermont, NH where the bulk of the Seeds of Renewal crops are propagated and grown.  More than any other living Abenaki, she has the years of experience with growing, seed-saving and cooking with the Project’s unique ancient crops.

Cheryl  O’Neil,  Koasek Abenaki citizen is a Caregiver to the Elderly, with an academic Nursing background, and has lectured on Indigenous crops, nutrition and food security at venues in New England and Quebec. She is also a member of the Voices of the Koas singing group, and teaches Abenaki music and dance, and is a member  of the Vermont Commission on Native American Affairs.