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Dragonfly Tales
June 26 2014

Grant awarded for maize research
By Colette S. Wolf, UTTC Extension Educator for Agro-Ecology and Food Security

One seed group used in the UTTC Maize Nursery

            United Tribes Technical College has received a grant from the U. S. Department of Agriculture to conduct plant-breeding and seed research on Native varieties of maize (corn).

            The two-year, $150,000 award will support a pilot project involving corn variety evaluations and educational outreach. The competitive grant selection was made in December to UTTC’s Land Grant Agroecology Program from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

            The project is titled Plant Breeding for Sustainability and Seed Sovereignty. It’s part of NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative: Plant Breeding for Agriculture Production.

            United Tribes will coordinate the research done by a group of 1994 Tribal Land Grant Colleges in collaboration with a regional sustainable agriculture organization.

Frank Kutka in the maize plot

            The project will build capacity at the colleges for maize breeding and seed saving. Regular maize-breeding workshops will be conducted, along with field days and variety evaluations. Survey information will also be collected.

            Partners in the project are Fort Berthold Community College, New Town, ND; Stone Child Community College, Box Elder, MT; Turtle Mountain Community College, Belcourt, ND; United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, ND; and Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society, LaMoure, ND.

            When completed, the project will have assembled data on existing varieties and collected seed to pass along and/or breed. Information will be collected about seed methodologies that are acceptable to Native people in the region and input about objectives for community seed programs.

            The project will enable the four tribal colleges to lay the foundation for future crop breeding and seed saving based on the needs of regional native communities.

            Each of the colleges has a newly developed, one acre maize nursery now growing numerous varieties. During the first summer, college staff members will learn hand breeding techniques used by their ancestors. In the fall, the varieties will be evaluated for physical attributes, such as color, taste, smell, grinding, popping and more.

            The UTTC maize nursery is located in the college’s Dragonfly Garden, which is open to public visitation.

            For more information please contact me: Colette Wolf, Co-Project Director, cwolf@uttc.edu  or Project Director Jen Janecek- Hartman, jjhartman@uttc.edu.

Hoop House
            Construction on the 20 x 36 foot hoop house was completed May 22. Campus volunteers helped put on the cover and add the finishing touches. It’s located in the Anne Kuyper Community Garden. This project has benefited from help by folks from Sioux County Extension, Fort Yates; White Shield cultural staff; Fort Berthold Land Grant; United Tribes Land Grant; and UTTC’s maintenance crew.

UTTC Hoop House

             We hope to extend our growing season by capturing the sun’s warmth, both in the spring and the fall, to grow cool weather crops like kale and lettuce. This summer, we will plant tomatoes which were started indoors under grow lights.

Kids Garden-Potato Planting
            On Monday, April 21 we enjoyed an amazing community garden event with kids, moms, dads, teachers, educators and volunteers. It was a collaboration between TJES Science Club students, Leah Haman’s Family and School Collaboration students and Land Grant Extension Educators.

Reaching out to Mother Earth in Kids Garden, Photo by Jordan Katcher, UTTC

            We cleaned up the UTTC Kid’s Garden and planted potatoes, accomplishing in 45 minutes what it takes one person to do in a full morning.

            We planted 125 seed potatoes. Each seed potato can produce 5-15 new potatoes. In less than an hour we planted possibilities: 625 to 1,875 possible new potatoes this fall. WOW!
            Now that’s “Food Sovereignty in Action!”

            The potatoes we planted are low in carbohydrates and high in nutrients. And, we burned a few calories too!
– Colette S. Wolf

Gardening Together is Food Sovereignty in Action!
            What happens when soil, sun, seed and small hands are mixed together?
We plant happy memories of how to connect with Mother Earth when growing food for our community!

Kids Garden group


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