The project was started in 2013 to provide both food and education to the Native American community and the public. Economic Development Director Larry Lasley says part of the project’s mission is to revitalize the Meskwaki customs of seasonal growing and gathering.
“To continue those traditions and to help promote and teach younger family members to carry on that heritage,” Lasley says. Lasley says Red Earth Gardens grows not only fruits and vegetables but also hay and conservation habitat.
Farm Manager Jennifer Vazquez-Koster says they’re in the process of integrating the tribe’s goals into a for-profit business..
“We also sell wholesale to the Meskwaki Bingo Casino and Hotel,” Vazquez-Koster explains. “We’ve sold a little bit to different grocery stores and restaurants, seeing if that is worth it for use. And we set or farm stand at the Trading Post which is the tribe’s gas station.”
Vazquez-Koster says plans for the first year of the five year grant include planting 10 acres of fruit and nut trees. She says the goal is to be organically certified by late this year.
Thanks to Pat Blank, Iowa Public Radio