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Agricultural Literacy Week 2021: Abenaki Land Link Project

In 2020, the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation partnered with the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) and Rooted in Vermont (a program of the Vermont Farm to Plate Network) to provide Indigenous seeds to over a dozen gardeners, homesteaders, and farmers around Vermont who dedicated land to grow and harvest squash, corn, and beans for Abenaki citizens. In 2021, this partnership and project expanded to include almost 40 growers around the state. The food sovereignty project is part of Abenaki Helping Abenaki, a nonprofit of the Nulhegan Abenaki Tribe. Growers are providing their land and donating their time, skills, and resources. During this panel, learn more about the project and this harvest season with Chief Don Stevens, Joe Bossen, Guy Maguire, JoAnne Dennee, and NOFA-VT.

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Chief Don Stevens is Chief of the Nulhegan Abenaki and the Executive Director of their non-profit, “Abenaki Helping Abenaki,” which is responsible for all the tribal programs and services. An engaging spokesperson, Chief Stevens helped lead the fight for state recognition of the Abenaki people of Vermont, who were recognized by the Vermont Legislature in 2011. Don was able to acquire land and hunting/fishing rights for the Nulhegan Tribe, which had been absent for over 200 years. Don continues to work with the federal government, legislators, state and local governments, institutions, and other Indian Nations to represent Nulhegan Abenaki viewpoints.

Joe Bossen is the founder and owner of Vermont Bean Crafters and co-owner of All Souls Tortilleria. Joe is deeply committed to food justice, plant-based diets, and local food systems. He grows crops for the Abenaki Land Link project and serves in a leadership role in processing and preserving the project’s harvest.

Guy Maguire is the Programs Director at South Hero Land Trust, as well as an avid gardener and rare plant volunteer with the Native Plant Trust. Guy engages with students and adults in hands-on, outdoor learning that honors the land and the people who steward it. This year he coordinated a unit for 3rd and 4th graders about the Abenaki Land Link Project, and looks forward to more opportunities for learning and connecting with others around food, plants, and justice.

JoAnne Dennee is the Land/Food Educator at Common Roots in South Burlington. She mentors college interns in nutrition and stewardship as it relates to local habitats and restorative land practices, and is a grower for the Abenaki Land Link project. The Common Roots farm is eight acres of VOF and Real Organic Project certified vegetables and flowers. JoAnne maintains an Abenaki Gateway Garden as the entrance to the 40+ raised bed school garden. Common Roots has delivered 13 years of farm-to-school lessons, provides freshly harvested and prepared products to the local food shelf, and teaches an after school Farm-to-Fork program for middle schoolers who prepare a balanced organic dinner for their family, and more!

Agricultural Literacy Week, hosted by NOFA-VT and the Vermont Department of Libraries, offers programming to highlight and celebrate local farms & the food system. This year’s theme is Land Connections. All events are free and open to the public; pre-registration is required.