Indigenous Communities Fellowship

Coffee Pot Farms (CPF)

Using food sovereignty to create healthy communities and families

Team Lead

Cherilyn Yazzie

The Problem

Connection to land and agriculture is a foundation of the Diné people. However, this deep connection to healthy cultural food practices has been altered by climate change and severe drought conditions. The Diné people have limited access to traditional crops like corn, beans, squash, melons, wild onions, carrots, spinach, purslane, apricot and peach trees, and native plants such as taa’ dii diin (corn pollen), corn meal, sage, and herbs.

A proliferation of unhealthy convenience foods, lack of grocery stores and supermarkets, and limited employment opportunities indicate a need for agricultural and healthy food initiatives to revitalize the rural Navajo Nation economy and health of the Diné people.

Solution Summary

We will revitalize a long-abandoned two-acre corn field by amending soils through double digging lasagna beds, hügelkulturs, berms, and swells. A holding pond using permaculture methods to capture and slow down rain water and run-off will be used for water storage. By implementing these techniques, we aim to regenerate the soil and increase availability of traditional crops, fruit trees, and medicinal plants.

Because farmers have limited access to transportation and time to attend workshops, trainings, and demonstrations, we will document the entire process of how to revitalize a corn field on social media. This project will show farmers how to use new technology to amend soils and grow more food and native plants. 

Market Opportunity

  • According to the Arizona Farm Bureau and the USDA, nearly 40 percent of farms in Arizona have female principal operators compared to 14 percent nationally
  • Also, the percentage of farms in Arizona headed by American Indian or Alaska Natives is vastly larger than the national figure—while only 2 percent of farms in the US have a principal operator who is Native American, this group comprises 56 percent of farm operators in Arizona.

Statistic

  • Arizona is the only state in the US in which more than 50 percent of all farmers and ranchers are Native American.

Highlights

  • Coffee Pot Farms has been featured in a Civil Eats article and on the Vitalyst Foundation podcast on Navajo Nation food sovereignty
  • Part of a coalition to define and write food policies for a culturally appropriate food system
  • Coffee Pot Farms is an approved SNAP vendor
  • 2019 First Nations Development Institute Keepseagle Fast-Track Grant Recipient
  • Arizona State University Stardust grant recipient to address food sovereignty issues

Organization Goals

  • Revitalize a dormant corn field to use as a demonstration site
  • Plant lasagna garden beds with corn, beans, squash, and native medicinal plants
  • Share soil revitalization methods through social media and online tutorials
  • Expand projects to other local farms in Leupp and Greasewood, AZ areas

Existing Partnerships

  • Tolani Lake Enterprises, where they provide plant starts and garden education workshops
  • Green Team and Chizzie Farms, where they've provided grant writing assistance, leadership for capacity building, and support for local farmers
  • Pinnacle Prevention and Adrienne Udarbe for mentorship for the incubation of food system projects and business
  • Navajo Nation Teesto Chapter as a place to provide garden education workshops to the community

Partnership Goals

  • Financing
  • Future funding opportunities

Fellow Team

Headquarters: 

Dilkon, AZ, USA

Project Stage: 

Pilot

Working in: 

Navajo Nation

Team Members: 

5

Solution Team:

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