2019 Running Strong for American Indian Youth Dreamstarter Taylor Eddie (Navajo Nation), 18, of Spanish Fork, Utah is pursuing her dream “A Complete Agricultural Experience” designed to introduce agriculture as business career and to show Native students how agriculture ties in to Native history and culture.
Through her Dreamstarter project, Taylor has built a vegetable garden, a chicken coop, nesting boxes and is tending to goats. She is selling produce, milk and eggs at local farmers markets and teaching her fellow students about how to develop a basic business plan, advertising, employment and money management.
“My project fits perfectly into this theme of entrepreneurship because agriculture is a business; it is one of the most important businesses because it feeds the world,” Taylor told us in her Dreamstarter application.
“Times have changed for our Native American communities, who were always hunters and gatherers. Now we can make a living so that we can support our families with this career. Native Americans have been practicing agriculture for generations.”
Taylor also expressed the importance of food security through agriculture in helping to ensure that Native communities have access to fresh vegetables and fruits, eggs and meat.
“Local farming gives us the ability to feed people in our communities independent of outside influences and keeps dollars spent on agricultural products in the local economy,” she noted. “The most basic needs of humankind are food, water and shelter. Without them, life, society and economies would cease to exist.”
Her mentor, Eileen Quintana, program manager Nebo School District Title VI Indian Education program which supplements the education of Native students, reported that with Taylor’s $10,000 Dreamstarter grant they were able to purchase chickens, and two goats which live in a pasture near the school, put up fencing, establish gardens, and more.
Students milked the goats and learned how to make goat cheese, as well as caramel, and soap products which they sold locally.
“Some families bought chickens and students learned to raise them from chicks,” Eileen told us. “They are now producing eggs and so we are enjoying fresh eggs that we all buy from them.
“We planted gardens and sold our produce at student farmers market. Taylor and the Nebo Title VI parent committee bought a sheep to butcher so that they could sell mutton stew and fry bread at a Native American Arts Market.”
Among those Nebo students who benefited from Taylor’s Dreamstater project is 7-year-old Jericho whose family bought nine chickens.
“He has learned how to take care of these chickens by feeding them, making sure they have water and cleaning out the coop,” she said. “He has even named them: Betty White, the three Kardashians, Jessie’s girl, Marge, Lisa and Maggie, but his favorite chicken’s name is Ruby.
“He enjoys playing with all of them. He brings in the eggs and helps sell them to the Indian Education families. He is learning about food and how his chickens lay fresh eggs to feed all the families.”
In addition, teenagers Alexa and Shaina milked the goats.
“They never had the opportunity to care for livestock since they lived in an urban setting,” said Eileen. “They came with us to buy supplies, feed and hay, and really got attached to the goats.Their trips to the goat pasture was filled with laughter, teaching as well as learning about goats.
“They also planted two garden boxes at their home and enjoyed going out daily to water, weed and check the garden…eating fresh tomatoes was their favorite thing!”
Eileen also reported that Nebo School District’s Future Farmers of America program partnered with their Camp Eagle Summer School to teach about animals and gardens and donated vegetable seedlings and provided a teacher to teach about gardening techniques.
“Taylor was able to teach students for one whole week about gardens, goat and chick care and how to start a small business.
“We are learning about self-sufficiency through raising our own food and incorporating indigenous foods to keep healthy.”