Finland Wild Rice Project: 2022 Season in Photos
Although 2022 may not have been the rebound season that area wild rice harvesters were hoping for after two tough previous years, it was at least an exciting second year for the Finland Wild Rice Project…filled with learning and growth as the harvesting mentorship and processing apprenticeship programs expanded, educational workshops were held, AND the Wild Rice House more than quadrupled its processing capacity from the first year! Here are some photo highlights of each of those things, as well as a glimpse into what’s ahead for the program.
The Wild Rice Harvesting Mentorship program kicked off in early August with preparatory educational workshops in Finland, followed by hands on harvesting practice right on the lakes and rivers during the official harvest season (Aug 15-Sept 30). All in all, there were 7 mentors and 19 mentees involved in the program! The purpose of these mentorships was to facilitate the passing down of skills and knowledge around harvesting wild rice (manoominikewin in Ojibwe) as well as appreciation and good stewardship practices.
The 1854 Treaty Authority and the 13 Moons Tribal Community College held an educational open demonstration camp and native traditional skill share on the Moose Horn River. Attendees had access to hands on learning of everything from equipment making, to harvesting, to hand processing.
By the end of the season, Blake, the lead processor, and five apprentices, processed around 13,000 lbs of wild rice at the Finland Wild Rice House!
The space was also used this fall to experiment and explore the possibility of using the same space and equipment to process other small grains and beans in the off season.
These two photos show the same rice lake in central MN in two different years, both taken in late August during ricing season. Many lakes in this region that are usually completely covered in rice, showed mostly open water this year. There are many theories being studied as to why this happened: from it being part of a natural cycle, to climate change or drought related, to being caused by direct human impact on the ricing beds…and so far it seems the answer may be all of the above.
Throughout the winter and spring of 2023, the Wild Rice Project will be focusing on hosting a series of webinars, workshops, and other educational events relating to the history and ecology of wild rice and its importance in local food systems; as well as on facilitating deeper dialogues on related cultural considerations and environmental concerns.