Native-Owned Farms Growing Ancestral Foods

Do you know where your food comes from? For these Indigenous farmers across the United States, food is more than something you eat; it’s a celebration of the relationship with your homeland, the ecosystem that nourishes you. Here are five Native-owned farms that are reviving the relationship with ancestral foods and encouraging other Natives to take part in this homecoming.  


4th World Farm 

The high desert region of the Southwest undergoes extreme heat, cold, and wind on a daily basis, but M. Karlos Baca—a Dine, Tewa, and Uchu farmer—is determined to reintroduce Indigenous seeds to their homelands in Southern Ute Nation, only miles from the ancestral Pueblo of Mesa Verde in Colorado. As a co-founder of the I-Collective, a coalition of Native herbalists, chefs, and seed & knowledge keepers, Baca battles colonial structures through a process of “rematriation” through Indigenous foodways, as he returns home with all his Native relatives, including the seeds. After spending years “planting water and growing soil” to heal the damaged drought-stricken landscapes, he now grows abundant harvests, offers tours and workshops, and sells raw produce and Food & Medicine Boxes that contain treats like mushroom powders, Chokecherry syrup, garlic honey, and more.

Photo by 4th World Farm

Dynamite Hill Farm 

Ojibwe agriculturalists Jerry Jondreau and Katy Bresette are working from the shoreline of Lake Superior’s Keweenaw Bay in Michigan to revive ancestral foodways. They tap maple trees across their 30 acres to create maple syrup after the last spring freeze in the traditional method of boiling gallons of sap atop a wood fire to create a gallon of pure maple syrup. They also harvest native seasonal produce and Manoomin Wild Rice from Minnesota, and have opened their land to host individuals and groups curious to learn about traditional Ojibwe foodways. 

Processed manoonmin wild rice. (Photo by Lorie Shaull)

Shinnecock Kelp Farmers

A group of six women from the Shinnecock Indian Nation have become kelp farmers, growing the seaweed with the collaboration of nuns from the Sister of St. Joseph, who respectively live on the east and west coasts of Shinnecock Bay. These women grow kelp to absorb rising nitrogen and carbon levels in the water, a result of fertilizer runoff and overdevelopment in the Hamptons, which lacks a municipal sewer system. They’re exploring selling seaweed as fertilizer, and in the future, as food and in beauty products. Shinnecock Natives have used kelp for generations as currency, medicine, home insulation, and even in beauty products.


Ndée Bikíyaa, The Peoples' Farm

The White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona is building the personal and cultural health of its residents through the restoration of 900 acres of land called Ndee Bikíyaa, or The People's Farm. The Farm is a mentorship program that facilitates workshops for tribal members like “Teachings of my Ancestors - Nohwiza ́’yé’ n’íí binalze' Western Apache Native Wild Food and Herbal Plants.” They also support schools with garden construction and food, utilizing hoop houses, a 2-acre garden, a passive solar greenhouse, and fields to grow and sell ancestral produce like Apache Squash, Wild Grape, Prickly Pear, Shaggy Mane Mushroom, and Scarlet Sumac at their Marketplace, which is open to all. 

Shaggy mane mushrooms can be found in the the farm, and as an ingredient in the recipes provided by Ndee Bikiyaa, The People's Farm.

Sakari Farms

Just north of Bend, Oregon, Inupiaq-Kingikmuit-Tribal Farmer Spring Alaska Schreiner owns Sakari Farms, which works to grow and sell traditional Native foods, herbs, seasonings, and medicines that grow across Turtle Island. Schreiner and her husband host Tribal Longtable food events, Traditional cooking classes, and several seed-saving classes that revolve around a Native Seed Bank that distributes seeds for free to regional Tribal members.


Whether you and your ancestors are native to this land or not, all of us are capable of intentionally engaging with our local food systems to learn the history of the land and support Native farms who are giving new life to traditional foodways.