Field Notes from Idaho

(By Christina Stucker-Gassi & NCAP's Habitat Team) This month our habitat team spent time in the field in Boise and Fort Hall, Idaho, and we wanted to share a few highlights.  We hosted a plant walk in Boise at the Chief Eagle Eye Reserve and then had a tour of the Waterwise Garden at the Idaho Botanical Gardens (IBG) nearby. Daniel Savery, IBG's collection curator, shared with our group the story of how the waterwise garden was created to commemorate the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. We discussed how indigenous people are referred to in the past tense on signage in the garden, playing into a myth of erasure despite the fact that Tribes are active and thriving today. Katie Peterson, IBG's Education Director shared preliminary efforts to do an overhaul of the interpretive signs for this area of the garden which should include consulting with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. NCAP is a Lunaria Grant Program recipient through the Idaho Botanical Gardens, and appreciates their willingness to support efforts to have cross-cultural community wide conversations about the intersection of native plant conservation and Tribal stewardship. Continue reading

Latinx Landscape Network Takes Shape & Grows in Numbers

(By Tommy Diaz, Healthy People & Communities Program Manager) The Latinx Landscape Network is beginning to take form as more landscapers join our events. We are grateful to have hosted a wonderfully planned workshop  on Friday, June 10th. Our partners connected with the attendees and established a comfortable space for conversation and idea sharing. Latine landscapers braved the downpour and heavy Friday traffic, making their way to Clackamas Community College’s Environmental Learning Center to learn and share with their community. We discussed sustainable weed and pest control practices, vegetative structures (like rain gardens and bioswales) and obtaining the Oregon EcoBiz certification. Continue reading

NCAP's Shared Leadership Journey

We recently bid farewell to Co-Directors Ashley Chesser and Dominica Navarro Martinez. Both were pursued to work for wonderful organizations in the environmental field. We cannot thank Ashley and Dominica enough for the passion and dedication they have brought to NCAP! With that staff transition, we wanted to share an update on how our use of shared leadership is evolving in the absence of Co-Directors. Continue reading

Taking Our Beneficial Insect Habitat Work Off The Farm

(By Christina Stucker-Gassi, Healthy Food & Farms Program Manager & Sidney Fellows, Program Specialist) The purpose of this project is to support the rich and complex relationships between the native plant movement and Indigenous knowledge-ways. Various tribal communities today are adapting and strengthening cultural practices that involve native flora. These practices have historically, and continue to be, impeded by colonial dispossession which has created an issue of tribal access to the native flora that is traditionally used for food, ceremony, and various other cultural practices. Often, traditional food/medicine harvesting areas are hard to access, due to practices such as land privatization and industrialization, in addition to being located off of Indigenous reservations. Environmental degradation through conventional agriculture, industrial contamination, and climate change are among the factors that tribal communities face as they adapt and strengthen their ancestral human-plant interactions.  Continue reading

Project Milpa, Part One

Photo: Magic Mana corn ready to be shelled, or removed from the cob (By Christina Stucker-Gassi, NCAP, and IORC Agriculture & Food Team) Food access is a cornerstone social justice issue of our lifetime. In 2020 organizers with the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils (IORC), Irene Ruiz and Samantha Guerrero, helped create the Idaho Immigrant Resource Alliance (IIRA) to bring emergency aid to the Idaho farm worker and immigrant community. These communities were left without access to resources like funds, social services, and information due to lack of translated materials when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Idaho. Many living in food apartheids couldn’t access nutritious food despite being a critical member of the food production system. Under IIRA, Project Milpa was created to source & grow non genetically modified, organic, and culturally relevant food to feed Idaho’s Latinx community, most of whom are of Mexican descent and have been significantly impacted by the pandemic. Continue reading