Reflection on the Wild Rice Project’s 2021

Reflection on the Wild Rice Project’s 2021

Grand Opening Event at the Wild Rice Processing Facility in Finland, Minnesota

2021 began with a plan...

With the Wild Rice Project obtaining a large sum of grant funding at the beginning of the year, it was time for action. Spring 2021 was one of anticipation: The project had the equipment, location and, after hiring a Project Coordinator in May 2021, the project had the personnel to prepare for its first wild rice harvest season.

Summer 2021 took the Project Team by storm as the drought, pandemic and fires raged on. Still, the processing facility prevailed! Electrical work, a cement slab and roof construction are just a few of the projects completed. The team and family were able to celebrate the Grand Opening of the Wild Rice House just before the harvest season began.

Fall 2021 started with the wild rice harvest season. We had the honor of working with 4 expert mentors to teach Finland community members how to harvest and process wild rice. In our mentorship and apprenticeship programs, the goals of bringing our Minnesota community members closer to nature and to food sovereignty are forefront in our minds and hearts. The Wild Rice House processed over 2,000 lbs of finished rice from over 18 local harvesters. The team was also able to run oats and mustard seed through the equipment from Finnskogen Farm to de-hull and sort.

Processing and Mentoring isn't all the project has done! A large goal of the Wild Rice Project is to Educate. In the face of climate change, environmental degradation, and the pandemic, wild rice needs our help. We cannot give that help without first understanding the problem at hand. To help our Project Team educate communities on the standing issues, we have partnered with members of Grand Portage Anishinaabe, Fond Du Lac Anishinaabe, 1854 Treaty Authority, University of Minnesota - Duluth and more.
Between hosting webinar events, and tours of the processing facility, tabling at the Harvest Booya Festival and visiting local schools, we can only hope that wild rice advocacy and appreciation is increasing.

Miigwech/Thank You from our Project Team for your support this past year and we look forward to the possibilities of 2022!

Abby Rohweder, a 2021 Graduate of the University of Minnesota from Proctor, MN, became the Wild Rice Project Coordinator in May. Photo by Lori Shaull

Marvin Morrison & Crew pour the cement slab for the Parchers

Lead Processor Blake Hawbaker splits wood for the large parcher. Photo by Lori Shaull

Mentors and Mentees enjoying some lunch during a harvest day

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