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  • Writer's pictureRose High Bear

Organic Farming Training Begins Soon For Native Americans

Elderberry Wisdom Farm is busy planning our upcoming organic farming internship. This food sovereignty project is the original reason why our Native American nonprofit was formed in May 2019 and it finally has now become our top priority for 2023.

Starting this month, we will be sharing this opportunity with Native families. We are requesting our community’s assistance as we begin to recruit this next cohort. If you know a Native American, Alaskan Native, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander who may be interested in learning organic farming and using indigenous farming methods to grow healthy food for their community, please let us know or you can refer them to us. Info will continue to be released at our website and for more information or if you have questions you can also email Sara at

Our spring internship is ideal for anyone who desires an opportunity to farm the rich soils of the Willamette Valley and would like to form their own agricultural or horticultural microenterprise business. Much personal fulfillment comes from this opportunity to develop their own agricultural business. Producing value added food products provide the potential for income and an opportunity for attaining multigenerational prosperity.

Working for the sake of earning money may be less fulfilling to some Native people, especially those families who practice giveaway or potlatch cultural traditions and have a strong commitment to family and community. Our hybrid business model integrates the commitment of service to community with the motivation to run a profitable business. They are more motivated to develop a business when there is an opportunity to support and serve their family and extended family because the cultural value of generosity and service to community is so important.

The 8-week internship includes 150 hours of classroom education, experiential service-learning activities, and mentoring from Native farmers, and training from educators who integrate Western science agriculture with indigenous practices. Classes are planned for Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from Thursday, April 6 through Friday, May 26, 2023. A $2,000 stipend will be awarded to those completing the training.

We are blessed with a lease on eleven-acre Vahid Farm in Aurora generously offered by our colleague, David House, and his family. This farm where the cohort will train has been maintained free of herbicides, pesticides and other contaminants for decades. We are applying for organic certification through Oregon Tilth, giving the interns an opportunity to learn how to transform a farm property into an organic operation.

With the formation of the Native American Farm Cooperative and Farmers Market, our next cohort will have a ground-floor opportunity in cooperative planning. Their voice will be included in decision making as we develop the infrastructure of our Farm Coop and we will consult about the future Farmers Market being planned in partnership with the Salem Farmer’s Market and others nearby. Our partner, the Northwest Cooperative Development Center, is coordinating the planning and will help the group through the process.

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