Manuel Morales, Director/Extension Agent
Additional seasonal employees are hired as needed
The overall mission of the Aaniiih Nakoda College Extension Program is to promote individual and community well-being by improving health, promoting self-sufficiency, and encouraging lifelong learning among all segments of the Fort Belknap community.
The Fort Belknap College Demonstration Farm was established in 1998. Originally the farm was located approximately 3 miles northeast of campus and included 7.4 acres. 4.2 acres were added in 2004. This land is currently being used by the Alternative Crop Research Project. Because of rising fuel costs, the Demonstration Farm garden was moved closer to campus in Spring 2006. The garden is now approximately 2 acres in size. Shortly after the move, a new state of the art greenhouse was funded by the Department of Defense and built by Fort Belknap Tribal Construction. The program is now known as the Aaniiih Nakoda College Extension Program and is funded through the United States Department of Agriculture's Tribal College Extension Program which is currently headed by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture Agency.
PLANNING FOR THE FARM AND GREENHOUSE:
In 1997 a planning committee made up of ANC administrators, faculty, community representatives and the Fort Belknap Reservation Extension Agent, was established to determine the focus of the College's Extension activities. At the time, the committee decided to develop a Demonstration Farm and Greenhouse that could serve as an educational resource for all segments of the reservation communities. From 1998 to the current day, theAaniiih Nakoda College Extension Program operates in partnership with Montana State University-Bozeman's FRTEP (Federally-Recognized Tribes Extension Program) and varies tribal health programs in order to accomplish the mission.
The old greenhouse was built in the fall of 1998 and was used primarily for growing transplants for the Demonstration Farm garden plots. In 2006 the old greenhouse was taken down and with funds from the Department of Defense, a new state of the art greenhouse was built. The new and improved greenhouse would adequately meet the needs of ANC's science research, educational and outreach programs. The Greenhouse provides a "Living Laboratory" for the Aaniiih Nakoda College students and the White Clay Language Immersion School. All long-season crops are started and transplanted from the greenhouse to the Demonstration Farm after the first average frost free week.
THE DEMONSTRATION GARDEN:
The Aaniiih Nakoda College Demonstration Farm is located approximately 1/2 miles east of the campus off of Highway 2. The garden is approximately 3 acres and is used for growing garden vegetables and grasses for demonstration purposes. The Demonstration Garden is operated and maintained through the hard work and dedication of the student interns provided by the various college programs. We also have one acre of fenced in land adjacent to the garden for community programs to participate in gardening.
With help from the Reservation Extension Agent, the Indian Health Service Nutritionist and varies tribal health programs we are able to have annual garden tours. These tours take place in the month of September and are a week long with participants as young as Head Starters and as young as our Elders.
We begin at the Greenhouse were we have raised beds that contain herbs and medicinal plants. From there we go to the Tree Nursery and then down to the Demonstration Garden. We walk from plot to plot as the participants receive information on the nutritional values of the vegetables and good gardening techniques. They get to pick some vegetables to take home and cook with recipes which they have in a folder given to them at the beginning of the tours which contain nutritional and gardening information. Towards the end of the tours the participants are treated to a Taste Test Meal prepared by varies health programs and the Senior Citizen Center. These meals have vegetables that are grown in the garden and prepared to make the best out of their nutrition. They also have a chance to receive a health screen which is put on by the local health programs and fill out a survey for feedback on the tours.
Food preparation and preservation workshops will be conducted by the Tribal Extension Program in the weeks following the tours.
We also have a "We Dig You Pick" event in the month of October. Community members come to the garden site with their family members and pick potatoes from our potato patch to fill up their sacks. The potato sacks can weigh as much as 50 lbs. which goes a long way in helping out with their food budget.