Rowen White
National Program Coordinator

Organization: Indigenous Seedkeepers Network ( Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance)
Location: San Juan, CA

I’m excited to be a Castanea Fellow because… it will enable me to continue to increase my capacity as a mentor and leader to grow other leaders who can help with this work. I’m excited to create intergenerational legacies with this work.

What is the challenge your work addresses?

Native and Indigenous communities in North America are faced with a range of challenges, including food security, food sovereignty and seed sovereignty. We need access to culturally appropriate, regionally adapted specific varieties of seed. We also need more mentors, empowered leaders and facilitators on the ground to create intergenerational connections around food and culture. I’ve been a guide, mentor and thought leader in the movement for the past few decades. There are others. But we need to increase capacity at the community and regional level; people need support and resources. We have bandwidth issues.

What strategies are you using to address the challenge?

I use this analogy: this movement is going to seed. The people who are holding pieces of this work need to multiply ourselves to have sustained and continued impact on the ground. I see us as growing good seed – actual seed – and growing good seed also in terms of mentors and stewards.

What does success look like to you?

Part of the reseeding of food culture involves creating connections in hearts and minds about cultural food ways. We need to encourage a deepened literacy of what culturally appropriate foods are and what practices support this work. We need more mentors and elders in place in our communities to reseed food culture. Success would be seeing as part of household conversations discussions about food ways and the ways in which they are essential to our understanding of who we are as Native, as we find our way back home and to who we are.

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