By Jason Walker • SFA Communications & Membership Coordinator
It didn’t take long for Zachary Paige to become a positive force in Minnesota’s Native American community, helping to devise a project that culminated late last year in a significant grant to create an indigenous seed keeping network.
As a recent graduate of SFA’s Deep Roots Farmer Development Program, Paige, 30, is also proof that Deep Roots is training the next generation of farmers and community leaders. Paige, of Ponsford, Minn, took the program then known as Sustainable Food Production in 2012-13, and said he gained a holistic vision of sustainable food systems by looking at the issue from many different angles.
“I had no experience farming until after graduating college,” he said. “I taught music and worked on farms for two summers in the off-season teaching music. I had all sorts of questions brewing in my mind regarding plant cultivation, breeding and why many ‘sustainable’ farms didn’t save their seeds. I really thought that this was something important that would close the gap in the cyclical nature of sustainable food systems.”
While in the program, Paige gained real-world experience, extensive skills training, and the educational background needed to become a sustainable food producer. Further, Deep Roots’ commitment to community development and mentoring boosted Paige’s desire to develop a progressive project that would positively impact the indigenous community.
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