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Category: What We’re Reading

Soil Wealth

Croatan Institute recently released Soil Wealth, a comprehensive look at investing in regenerative agriculture across the US. Their term, soil wealth, relates to “the constellation of benefits associated with building both soil health and community wealth through regenerative agriculture.” The report offers an in-depth study of what’s already happening in this space alongside recommendations for capacity-building and growing the movement.

We’re highlighted among others like Rodale InstitutePipeline Foods, and more who are doing important work to support regenerative agriculture through the value chain.

Read the report here.

‘A major punch in the gut’: Midwest rains projected to create near-record dead zone in Gulf

It’s been a slow spring in the Midwest, marked by historically wet conditions that have caused floods and delayed planting throughout the region. These effects are being felt throughout the region and beyond: flooding in the Midwest is accelerating the flow of water from the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico. The Washington Post recently reported on the connection between Midwestern agriculture and ocean health – and it’s not pretty. It’s critical that the farms in the Mississippi watershed are managed organically in order to keep our waterways clean and free from chemical runoff that will feed the dead zone. Our work throughout this region and its watershed feels all the more important, especially as we experience the more volatile weather and increased moisture climate change is bringing.

Read the article here.

The Chicken and The Egg: Stop Linear Farming and Embrace Circular Agriculture

In a recent Forbes article, “The Chicken and The Egg: Stop Linear Farming and Embrace Circular Agriculture,” our partners at Main Street Project had their poultry-centered permaculture model featured in an interview with head agronomist, Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin. In it, he speaks about Main Street’s holistic approach to farming with nature and building an equitable model where smallholder farmers can succeed.

Our favorite quotes from the article:

On their vision – 

“As farmers we don’t produce anything. Nature does. We simply manage the process, a non-linear process, by which inedible energy is transformed into edible energy — from soil to carrots, from grain to eggs and chickens.”

On how their model works –

“Our 1.5 to 3-acre production units incorporate a canopy of vertical native perennial species like hazelnuts as well as a lower layer of understory crops. This protects and shades the chickens, who move freely throughout this “Tree-Range™” system, continually eating bugs, working the soil, and fertilizing.”

Iroquois Valley provided mortgage financing to Main Street Project in the purchase of their 100-acre demonstration farm in Northfield, MN.

History of the Iroquois Confederacy

As a fairness disclosure to the native peoples that inhabited these lands before us, we did not take the name of “Iroquois” with a particular historical or cultural viewpoint. The name of our company was instead singularly derived from the name of the county where we started business. However, we have learned to carry this name with pride and respect for the sustainable values and practices that are embodied in Iroquoian culture. It is with sincere admiration that we provide this information on the history of the Iroquois, perhaps the longest standing example of sustainable culture in North America.

Pronounced “eer-uh-kwoy,” the Iroquois Confederacy is made up of six tribes:
Mohawk, Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga and Tuscarora.

The Iroquois Confederacy, also known as the Iroquois League, was governed by the Iroquois Great Council. Each Iroquois nation sent between eight and fourteen leaders to the Great Council, where they agreed on political decisions through discussion and voting. Although these politicians were called “chiefs,” they were actually elected officials, chosen by the clan mothers (or matriarchs) of each tribe. Each individual nation also had its own tribal council to make local decisions. This is similar to how American states each have their own government, but all are subject to the greater US government. In fact, the Iroquois Confederacy was one of the examples of representative democracy used as a model by America’s founding fathers.

Information provided by: Native Languages of the America’s, Authors Orrin Lewis and Laura Reddish

 

The Legend of the Three Sisters

According to Iroquois legend, corn, beans, and squash are three inseparable sisters who only grow and thrive together. This tradition of interplanting corn, beans and squash in the same mounds, widespread among Native American farming societies, is a sophisticated, sustainable system that provided long-term soil fertility and a healthy diet to generations. The roots of this tradition can be seen today in the diverse crop rotations used by our organic tenant farmers.

Information provided by: Renees’ Garden Seeds, Author Alice Formiga

Hiawatha’s Belt and the Flag of the Iroquois

Hiawatha's Belt and the Flag of the Iroquois

Hiawatha  is a legendary Native American leader and founder of the Iroquois confederacy. Depending on the version of the narrative, Hiawatha lived in the 16th century and was a leader of the Onondaga or the Mohawk.

Hiawatha was a follower of The Great Peacemaker, a prophet and spiritual leader, who proposed the unification of the Iroquois peoples, who shared similar languages. Hiawatha, a skilled and charismatic orator, was instrumental in persuading native tribes to accept the Great Peacemaker’s vision and band together to become the Five Nations of the Iroquois confederacy. Later, the Tuscarora nation joined the Confederacy to become the Sixth Nation.

The belt symbolizes these Five Nations from west to east in their respective territories across New York state: Seneca (keepers of the western door), Cayuga (People of the Swamp), Onondaga (Keepers of the Fire), Oneida (People of the Standing Stone) and Mohawk (keeper of the eastern door)—by open ‘squares’ of white beads with the central figure signifying a tree or heart.

The tree figure signifies the Onondaga Nation, capital of the League and home to the central council fire. It was on the shores of Onondaga Lake where the message of peace was “planted” and the hatchets were buried. From this tree, four white roots sprouted, carrying the message of unity and peace to the four directions.

The Hiawatha Belt forms the basis of the flag of the Iroquois Confederacy, created in the 1980s. Historical information supplied by Wikipedia.

 

The Constitution of the Iroquois Nation
The Great Binding Law
GAYANASHAGOWA

The Iroquois nation was bound by a written law and process. They established a governance structure that was designed to impact future generations. Because they were able to unify under this Constitution, they conquered foes greater than themselves. This is the philosophical basis for our Board of Managers, we are merely following the vision of the Iroquois:

1. I am Dekanawidah and with the Five Nations’ Confederate Lords I plant the Tree of Great Peace. I plant it in your territory, Adodarhoh, and the Onondaga Nation, in the territory of you who are Firekeepers.

I name the tree the Tree of the Great Long Leaves. Under the shade of this Tree of the Great Peace we spread the soft white feathery down of the globe thistle as seats for you, Adodarhoh, and your cousin Lords.

We place you upon those seats, spread soft with the feathery down of the globe thistle, there beneath the shade of the spreading branches of the Tree of Peace. There shall you sit and watch the Council Fire of the Confederacy of the Five Nations, and all the affairs of the Five Nations shall be transacted at this place before you, Adodarhoh, and your cousin Lords, by the Confederate Lords of the Five Nations.

Click here for the full constitution.

Events

Farm Field Trip

During the last week of May, a handful of Iroquois Valley staff members visited a few of the farms and families that have been a part of our story since the beginning. The field trip was a great opportunity for our newer and more remote staff to have a hands-on orientation and see the transformation happening in the Chicago-area foodshed.

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News

Press Release: Iroquois Valley’s Direct Public Offering

Retail investors can now directly invest in organic farmland through Iroquois Valley’s Direct Public Offering (DPO). The DPO provides a long-term investment opportunity targeting market rate returns for the asset class while supporting healthy food production, environmental stewardship, and prosperity for independent farmers and their communities.

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What We're Reading

Soil Wealth

Croatan Institute recently released Soil Wealth, a comprehensive look at investing in regenerative agriculture across the US. Their term, soil wealth, relates to "the constellation of benefits associated with building both soil health and community wealth through regenerative agriculture."

Read more

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