Culture

Food Sovereignty

In partnership with UCONN Extension, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation received a four-year grant in 2019 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP). The Program is designed to help tribes develop strong foundations in agriculture production, improve food security and ensure better health.

The FRTEP funds programs on reservations and other tribal jurisdictions that address the unique needs of tribes by providing education and research-based knowledge to those who might not otherwise receive it. The program helps to strengthen tribal communities through 4-H and tribal youth development, agriculture and natural resource management, and entrepreneurship and business development.

Through the program, UCONN Extension provides the Tribe with education in state-of-the-art sustainable vegetable and fruit production techniques, which are melded with traditional and historical tribal methods. To date, the Tribe has successfully developed commercial greenhouse and cold storage facilities. The Tribe also began receiving the expertise of UCONN Extension through one-on-one consultation as well as classroom and hands-on training.

With the goal to reduce the risk and incidence of diabetes at Mashantucket, the program also works with the Tribal Health Department to deliver educational programming using classroom education as well as hands-on learning in the selection and preparation of healthy food and exercise through gardening.

Tribal youth are included in all aspects of the program with the expectation that many of them will one day assume major roles in the agriculture business. Participants learn about the Tribe’s agricultural history and how to successfully integrate traditional practices into today’s modern and sustainable agriculture.