Ecolution 5B: The Nature of Moving From Individual to Community

We recently featured the innovation of Denise Pieratos in creating the Harvest Nation farming concept in northern Minnesota. In this week’s installment of the Ecolution series, we feature the voice of her daughter — one of the four women family members leading the company.

My mother got into motion on figuring out how aeroponic farming would enable us to grow food at home — as a Bear clan we love our berries and wanted to know we could eat strawberries in the winter even if the food distribution system failed. It was not long before she realized this new system should not simply be for growing food at home for subsistence.

Being from an Indigenous community, our way of life is to share food — it is part of our survival story.

She started thinking bigger than household use — creating a whole farm concept in our community. It is incredible trying to keep up with her. She’s a tech whiz. She is the mastermind behind the concept that aeroponics can grow anything.

Once we have our space, we’ll be growing the highest in-demand fruits and vegetables. Heirloom tomatoes. Black chickpeas from Turkey. Blue potatoes, red potatoes. Greens rotated in shares. Romaine, spinach, leafy lettuce. Bulb onions, carrots, green beans, cherry tomatoes. Herbs: cilantro, sage, basil. It takes 2-3 years for fruit seeds to reach full maturation.

We are working with a professor in Duluth who is from Trinidad — the university is the largest holder of seeds in cacao varieties.
We could have 40 crops in the first farm, but we will focus on 12-15 items in rotation for our community-supported agriculture yields.

Also in this series: How aeroponics, aquaponics, and hydroponics work

What Is the Food Sovereignty Movement?

Dani Pieratos wrote at Blandin Foundation

  1. Affordable access to cultural appropriate and health food
    “I desperately need and want to have food around that feeds my spirit and my soul, like wild rice and berries. I need the ability to engage in the social activities surrounding my traditional foods to maintain my identity as an Anishinaabe Ikwe (Indigenous Woman) and connection to my people, my heritage. That’s where I draw strength.”
  2. Local Food Production and Control of Food System
    “We are the ones ingesting the food and having to live with the consequences of however the food system is designed. The food system should be directly accountable and responsive to the desires and needs of the people it serves. If the food system is not meeting the goals, as in, providing for the nutritional and social needs of a community, they should be able to provide input and feedback for improvements.”
  3. Education & Awareness
    “Growing up, I don’t think I had a clear, conscious thought about where food actually came from. I didn’t think to question the mechanisms for production or delivery. This changed when I became a mother. I grew up on the heftier side, and packed on the pounds living a not-so-healthy lifestyle. As a mom, I didn’t want my kids to suffer the same fate as I did. We are making changes to eat better now, reversing the curse of being passive consumers of foods like mac & cheese, hot dogs, white breads and pastas, chips and soda.”
  4. Environmental Practice
    “What use are the education and food system changes in support of community wellbeing if the land and the water around us is polluted and unable to maintain life into the future?”

What solutions are you part of that create cooperative economies and regenerative ecosystems in Minnesota? What story can you share about how it works? Contact with “Ecolution” in the subject line.

Ecolutionaries report they are passionate about: clean energy, public health, community gardens, regenerative agriculture, micro food systems, emerging farmers, revitalizing rural areas, regional food systems, soil health, cooperatives, permaculture, zero waste, and more.

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