Efforts underway to inform, encourage budding farmers
The first session of the tribal member farm assignment meeting was held on Tuesday, April 12, at the Multi-Purpose Facility. The meeting began with an explanation that we were gathered as a means of sharing knowledge, learning from each other’s mistakes, and answering questions that arise from growing crops.
Our collective gathering is a way of sharing experience from our established farmers and to inspire people who are new to farming. We must always remember that land and water are very valuable resources and outside forces are always looking for a reason to take them from us if we are not using them. The notion of hard work and long hours were addressed multiple times. Clearly this is not work that one should take lightly when deciding to farm.
The meetings are open to any type of farmer, but it appears that we are mostly hay farmers or ranchers with cattle/horses. Chairman Baker said that he wakes up early in the morning to go out to his farm property on the other side of town, come back to shower and go to his job, and then to come home to change clothes to go back out to the field and race the sun until it sets.
Many of us have adopted this way of life from May through October. Still, with hard work comes great achievement. Clearly this is a labor of love that is entrenched with sentimental value or just a need to work hard and make the most of a day.
In the meeting, we discussed how to apply for an agricultural assignment and went over the process of the application from beginning to approval by council. We also talked about the need for a five-year farm plan for people who want to apply for an assignment.
Councilwoman Lorelei Cloud explained the Tribe’s holding of water rights and how our continued use of water in farming is crucial to our identity and our future.
We had Water Resources talk about their program and how it benefits the membership. We also had the Ag Department speak about the many services that they provide.
One issue brought up during the meeting involved the waiting list and timing of when hay is ready to cut and the reasons why it may take some time to get the hay processed, baled, and stacked. One of the goals we have is to look for other people in the area (with their own machinery) that we can hire during peak season. Having options will help alleviate bottlenecks in our need for services.
We even had a speaker from Pueblo Community College explain what types of programs are currently offered and she asked what kind of programs we would like to see in the future. There is a Pueblo Community College campus in Bayfield and they do offer a certificate program in Agricultural Business.
A comprehensive questionnaire was used to gather information about each person’s assignment and the issues that they would like to resolve going forward.
I am currently compiling this information and will present to our leadership. I did receive phone calls and emails from a few people who were unable to attend this meeting but were interested in our efforts.
If you would like to fill out the questionnaire, please feel free to call or text me at 702-302-3972. All of our voices are important, and we have started off with great momentum. Thank you to everyone who contributed to a very productive meeting. Be on the lookout for our next meeting and the results of our questionnaire.