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A Rare Glimpse at Traditional Crops Grown in New Mexico

Farming has been a part of New Mexico for over 2,500 years, ever since Native Americans first grew corn, squash, and beans throughout the region. The 2017 Census of Agriculture provides a rare look into our state’s agriculture crop acreages and livestock numbers. For instance, the 2017 Ag Census shows Native Americans account for 24 percent of New Mexico's farms and ranches. Maize, a crop traditionally grown here, can be found on 596 farms with 1,923 acres of the native corn.

Dedication to both Work and Tribe

Patti Shay, management support assistant, has been with Rural Development for 19 years, at the Maine state office, in Bangor. She also is a tribal member of the Penobscot Nation, located in Old Town.

Tribal Plant Nurseries are About More than Growing Plants

Numerous tribes throughout the US are growing native plants for reforestation and restoration. For many of them however, there are deeper connections with the plants they’re propagating. Sure, the plants fulfill an ecological purpose for the projects they’re intended for, but often there can be deeper cultural connections as well. That is, seedlings intended for a restoration project may contain species of plants the tribe used traditionally.

Secretary Perdue Affirms USDA’s Commitment to Indian Country

Within a month of his start, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue followed through on his promise to Indian Country to visit tribal leaders. Joining tribal representatives, Senators Rounds and Thune, and Congresswoman Noem at Oglala Lakota College’s Rapid City Extension Center, Secretary Perdue aimed to learn more about the topics significant to both tribal nations and colleges in South Dakota. When the meeting closed, one thought was clear: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) stands ready to partner with tribal nations in their pursuits.

In Texas, Tradition and Innovation are "Continuing Resolutions" between Tribe and NRCS

This year, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will continue its resolution to build on its partnerships with Indian Country by supporting sustainably-managed crops and innovative ways to produce crops that are compatible with tribal cultures.

An example of these efforts is the relationship between the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tribe, located near El Paso, Texas, and NRCS. Working with NRCS, the Tribe constructed a seasonal high tunnel system at the Pueblo Education Center during a two-day workshop. The system provides an opportunity for Native youth to grow crops and take home fresh produce for healthy meals.