The Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Nation sits in rural Central Michigan about 90 minutes northwest of Flint. One of the newest business enterprises to open on Reservation is the Native Farmers Market. I was there for the groundbreaking with Tribal Chief Steve Pego, and other tribal members to represent USDA’s investment in this exciting project. USDA Rural Development provided a $200,000 Rural Business Enterprise Grant to build the farmers market pavilion and supporting parking lot.
As we took shovel to ground, Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Chief Steve Pego recalled how the typical local diet consisted largely of home-grown foods and game from hunting when he was a kid. He lamented how packaged foods and other items have since taken their place. His vision is that the Native Farmers Market will reconnect tribal members with their traditional foods and increase access to healthy food options for the community.
The Market is conveniently located across the street from the Tribal offices in Mt. Pleasant (population 26,000) and close to much of the tribal housing. Tribal Public Relations Director Frank Cloutier describes it as being “at the crossroads of the tribal community.” The market is up and running while construction on the pavilion is still underway.
Secretary Vilsack has identified local and regional food systems as one of the four pillars of rural economic development and recently announced new “Made in Rural America” state by state reports on USDA investments in rural economic development, including local food. Michigan (PDF, 98.4 KB) is among the top 10 states for federal investments in local food, and the Native Farmers Market shows how those investments are having great impact.
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It is sooo sad that I hear about all the things that are going on by this over seer of the USDA and most of it is greed toward the colleges and over seas. I am very happy that the Farmers Market is going and wow I must say Good luck, But this USDA is not reaching the people it should be reaching. It is very hard to even get to hs people on the ground to listen to the concerns of the people in the rureal communities. it is time that they stop and start to listen to the people in these communities who have the booths on the gound.
I really like the community gardens and urban gardens etc. Our community here in central valley California needs to do something like that. Of course, land owners who have left empty dirt lots all over the place, seem to think that the dirt flying everywhere on a windy day , stirring up an asthma attack seems really beneficial in the growth of this area. I always stick by the idea that if you live in an area that professes self-neglect and a society that has no interest in beautification, even in that of growth, of growth of even a sun-flower, then you have a society that dresses accordingly,.. in the uniform the environment made them wear, ...an environment that is not just made up of trees, plants, and flowering squash, but also an environment of politicians, regulators, and suit-and-tie humans who are so scared of a tomato stain on a tie, ... that how could we ever find the garden potential dirt lot- a dirt lot more destined to be a trash bin for needles and roaches and small plastic baggies?