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  • Writer's pictureRose High Bear

June 2021 E-Newsletter


Drought in South Salem Hills

Summer greetings to each of you. We are preparing for the heat of the summer and treasuring these cool and cloudy days of early June - with or without rain. My little farm is located in a drought area of South Sunnyside Hills in the Willamette Valley south of Salem. It makes sense to be grateful for the rain. Last summer, we were only 11 miles from one of the fire evacuation zones!

This month’s Water Supply Outlook from the National Weather Service (Portland office) confirms that our region may have a category of Severe Drought. The water supply for spring and summer of 2021 is estimated at below average. “As of early June, nearly all mountain snowpack has melted, with the exceptions of the volcanic peaks in the Cascades. Snow melted in April and May at a high rate that exceeded historic melt rates at most locations.”


Blue Elderberry Farm

Can you spot the 14 tiny quail eggs beneath the pile of brush on Blue Elderberry Farm? We have to be careful around here when we clear our brush on the property. A quail family has been living on the property the last two years and there were 14 eggs in this nest from last year.

Our Native species of blue elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. Cerulea) plants are growing and may be safer this year from the browsing deer, thanks to our team of volunteers. They have been helping us every other Saturday installing tree shields around the plants. Last year, the deer enjoyed the taste of our young plants so much they reduced them all to stubs, plus some died from the drought late last summer. We are putting our drip irrigation back into place soon and hope we can keep our young elderberry plants sufficiently wet to grow and prosper.

We are celebrating the 70 elderberry plants still growing this spring and are now almost a foot high. We may be blessed with a crop of berries in two years. Our volunteer events are COVID-19 safe as they are all held outdoors where we can maintain social distancing. Please plan to join us. You can email or find more info at:


Volunteer events scheduled for Saturday, June 26 and Saturday, July 10

If you want to sign up to join us or if you have questions about the volunteer activities, please feel free to contact us at The next two volunteer events will be held Saturday, June 26: 10 am – noon – 12:30-2:30 pm and Saturday, July 10: 9 am – noon. We will complete the last of the tree shields, get the drip irrigation system operational, and finish the last of the living green fence (hedgerow) along Delaney Road SE. This has been a huge project made so much easier because of the generosity of our volunteers, especially Farmer Jack with his tractor and scoop that has made the work of distributing woodchips so much easier.

In August, we are scheduled to receive our new 24’ x 48’ gable greenhouse kit. We have the support of an experience greenhouse person and our volunteers can help us raise it into place here at the farm. An end of season celebration will follow! Our new greenhouse will be constructed in time for our Native American interns who begin their experiential training in Traditional Ecological Knowledge here at the farm in September.


New Advisory Council Forming

We have the support of several specialists who are assisting our organization in the coming months as we form our Advisory Council at Elderberry Wisdom Farm.

Laura Lockwood-Hatfield has always been interested in intentional communities and supports our vision of the intentional Native American farm community we plan to develop in rural Marion County. It combines organic farming, spiritual development, educational training, and community building into one unified program for Native American farmers and Native plant nursery operators, including youth entrepreneurs. She and her colleagues understand the many elements associated with the setting up of intentional communities and we are grateful for the development work she is helping us establish.

We are especially grateful for the support of PhD agroecologist Robert Faust who is helping us enrich our red Jory soil at Blue Elderberry Farm. As President of Faust Bio-Agricultural Services, Inc., he has consulted with and trained farmers throughout the United States, Egypt, Belize, Jamaica and Mexico using new biotechnology and biological fertilizers to increase crop yields while reduce their dependency on soil applied chemical fertilizers and pesticides. He recently Moved to a farm near Independence Oregon, with a grass seed crop to be converted to organic vegetable seed production in 3 years, he recently retired from growing organic tropical fruits (banana, citrus, avocado, white pineapple, papaya, cherimoya), Kona coffee and raising tropical St. Croix hair sheep on his farm near Honaunau, Hawaii.

If you are a soil lover and want to know more about our Jory soil, it is the State of Oregon’s benchmark soil. Here’s a link:


Elderberry Wisdom Farm Public Presentations

We are committed to share our story with our community along with perspectives on restoring our sacred landscape and rich Native American cultural values. I gave a keynote at the National Climate Summit held by Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and National Congress of American Indians on June 8. My presentation expanded on our theme of sharing messages of hope to Native youth by discussing our interpretation of Traditional Ecological Knowledge. The event was recorded and will be available at the ATNI website in the near future:

Since that time, the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) have has announced the upcoming Global Indigenous Youth Forum (June 16-18, 2021), which aims to provide a safe space for Indigenous youth to voice their demands and challenges, and provide policy recommendations to the UN Food Systems Summit process. The Forum will bring together United Nation agencies, country representatives, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations, Indigenous Youth and other Youth from across the globe to focus on the integral perspectives and contributions from Indigenous youth on food systems transformation and response to unprecedented climate change. The outcomes from the Forum will contribute to the UN Food Systems Summit being held in New York, USA in September 2021. We have been grateful for updates from our colleague and neighbor, Mikaila Way, Indigenous Peoples' Liaison for North America, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

I copied a segment of their announcement below:

Recent studies estimate that there are more than 476.6 million Indigenous Peoples in the world. If they were in a single country, it would be the third in population, with more people than the United States of America. To organize their representativeness in different fora, Indigenous Peoples established seven socio-cultural regions.
Custodians of 80 per cent of planet´s biodiversity, Indigenous Peoples live in varied and often fragile ecosystems such as the Arctic, small islands, tropical forests, savannas, high mountains, deserts. Their livelihoods (hunting, fishing, gathering, shifting cultivation) depend primarily on natural resources allowing them to, over centuries, devise ingenious ways of managing their territories without depleting the resource base.
Indigenous Peoples, even though they are amongst those who contribute the least to global warming, are at the frontline of climate change´s impacts, particularly in small islands. Indigenous Peoples have developed mechanisms that can play a significant role in containing climate change´s impacts on natural resources and food security. Such knowledge has been traditionally passed on from one generation to another.
Indigenous youth have important contributions to make to the world with a profound understanding of their identity, cultural heritage, livelihoods, and lands. At the same time, many Indigenous youth face immense challenges resulting from the intergenerational effects of dominant cultures. Often, Indigenous youth are confronted with the hard choice between maintaining their roots and traditions in the Indigenous community or pursuing education and employment by migrating to cities far from home.

You are welcome to subscribe to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization’s mailing list to learn know more about the objectives of the Youth Forum and stay appraised of messages about food security and food systems from the UN.

Important food and agriculture conferences are being held by tribes this year and many are virtual. We will keep you updated on some of them in our monthly newsletter. Our team at Elderberry Wisdom Farm will present a virtual workshop at the Food Sovereignty Conference and Festival on September 19-21 hosted by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and Northern Michigan University. The title of our presentation is “Integrating TEK for Native Students entering Horticultural and Agricultural Career Pathways.” We believe our projects are replicable so we are sharing what we know with Native communities throughout the country and are grateful for their interest in our model.

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