By Tracey Treppa
Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake is always seeking ways to create benefit for the community and share in the bounty provided by the Northern California land. To that end, in 2015, we established a garden on our tribal soil in order to provide a place for our members to come together to plant, harvest, and maintain a patch of organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs. In just a couple of years, our garden has grown into a fun and productive place for people from all around the area to gather and participate in the cultivation.
The garden has become an impromptu meeting place for many members of the tribe, adults and children alike. Our hard-working committee keeps the fresh produce coming, with over 50 varieties grown in the last year. The items grown are shared with tribal members, and some are sold at a small stand open to all. Providing for our community with a source of both meaningful work and fresh produce is one way we’re happy to give back to the region that’s given us so much.
With our nation in the midst of an obesity crisis, this garden is our contribution to instill the values of healthy living in the hearts of our youngest citizens. Families can all enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) of our community garden and share in our love of home grown food. Our connection to the land is strengthened when we nourish ourselves with these products of the soil.
One favorite of local kids is our pumpkin patch, where children of the tribe planted their own seeds and watched over the months as they grew into full bloom, ready for the harvest. The educational opportunities presented by this project were a great side benefit to the togetherness and fun. As the results of their work came into view, an important lesson in persistence and preservation was shared by all.
This is just one example of the opportunities for sharing and learning brought about by our garden. This work connects our children with the land, providing a highly pertinent example of the importance of preservation and sustainability. In order to grow, we all must take good care of the planet that provides for us.
Outside of pumpkins, we’ve grown many different varieties of tomatoes, eggplant, squash, corn, melons, and many more. Tribal members and non-members alike eagerly enjoy our garden’s organic offerings. The diversity of offerings grown in the garden reflects the variety of faces we see in our area, and we hope to expand those offerings in the years to come.
We at Upper Lake have exciting future plans for this garden, including expanding our offerings into the fall and winter in order to bring year-round produce to the community. Due to unfortunate weather conditions, we’ve had to delay this project but plans are at the ready. This temporary setback, along with some infrastructural improvements to the site, have limited our garden’s offerings over the past year, but we remain positioned to come back better than ever once conditions clear up.
Thanks to the generosity of our Executive Council, we were able to procure a John Deere tractor which has already provided a great boost to our garden’s productive potential. We are seeking further funding in the form of an ANA SEDS Grant which will bolster the financial status of the farm, thereby allowing us to continue providing the region with a reliable source of fresh produce. In time, we hope to be able to provide produce for local restaurants and farmer’s markets with a year-round farm. All of this contributes to our higher goal of remaining a partner in health with the surrounding community. We look forward to many opportunities for growth of all kinds.
Tracey Treppa has served as a Member-At-Large of the Executive Council for the Habematolel Pomo of Upper Lake since 2016. A native of Lake County, she also served on the Tribal Consumer Financial Services Regulatory Commission, where she was tasked with safeguarding its Tribal Lending Enterprise’s assets. She is also immersed in the local community, where she volunteered for the Lake County Tribal Health Consortium, a group that seeks to improve the health status of Native Americans residing in Lake County through the provision of culturally sensitive health care services.