Gitigaaning "The Place of the Gardens"
Gitigaaning, “The Place of the Gardens”, is Fond du Lac’s newly developed 36-acre farm, and is located at 960 Cary Road in Cloquet. Purchased by the Band in 2017, the space is a community hub dedicated to building tribal food sovereignty. In 2018, the fields were prepped and cover crops planted. The first growing season began in 2019 with four acres of tilled space used for producers in the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College’s Bimaaji’idiwin Producer Training Program. This land is leased free of charge to Fond du Lac community members, helping build access to land and resources. In addition, this space is used for Gitigaan Programming and community feasts and gatherings.
The property consists of Bimiginogaan a 1,300 sq. ft. Growing Dome, multiple berry patches, an expanding orchard, pollinator gardens, demonstration plots, affordable housing for AmeriCorps VISTA workers, and is closely connected to Na’enimonigamig, Fond du Lac’s community commercial kitchen. (See thumbnails below.)
- Bimiginogaan: Bimiginogaan is a 1,300 sq. ft. Geodesic Growing Dome constructed in 2020 for season extension, with funding support through an Administrations for Native Americans Social and Economic Development Strategy Grant (ANA SEDS). In its second growing season (2022), Bimiginogaan produced 294 pounds of food that was donated to the Fond du Lac Ojibwe School’s Farm to School Lunch Program. With its controlled environment, the Dome helps protect plants from wind, hail, cold winters, and wildlife threats, allowing early planting and extended harvesting from March to November.
- Berry Patches: Throughout the property there are multiple berry patches growing including raspberries and strawberries.
- Orchard: Established in 2020 there are multiple varieties of apples, plums, and cherry trees growing.
- Pollinator Gardens: Established in 2022 through a partnership with Carlton Soil and Water Conservation District’s Lawns to Legume Program, there are multiple pollinator gardens located throughout Gitigaaning including in the orchard, near the VISTA house, outside of Na’enimonigamig by the root cellar, and in the North Meadow near Bimiginogaan.
- Demonstration Plots: As stated above, Gitiganning houses four acres of tilled land which is used for the Gitigaan demonstration plot in addition to providing space for Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College’s Bimaaji’idiwin Producer Training Program. Currently, this land is leased free of charge to Fond du Lac community members, helping build access to land and resources.
- Affordable Housing: Set at the front of the 960 Cary Road property is an original farmhouse, which is currently being used as affordable Vista Housing. Fond du Lac works with Ecolibrium 3 who matches AmeriCorps Vistas to positions in the Duluth area. Currently Fond du Lac has Vista Workers in the Agricultural, Planning, and IT Divisions.
- Infrastructure improvements:
- 2020: Well water at the farm was supported through a Minnesota Department of Agriculture grant
- 2020-2022: Fencing and a mini-irrigation system has been installed through a NRCS EQIP (Field to Market) grant
- Na’enimonigamig: Na’enimonigamig is a fully equipped community commercial kitchen facility built in 2020 with the help of CARES Act Funding and the Fond du Lac Development Fund. In addition, there is a root cellar for season extension, seed saving library, and butchering facility. The space is open to all Fond du Lac community members, including enrollees, descendants, family members, Native producers, and Bimaaji'idiwin Producer Program participants to preserve their harvest and create value-added products. Learn more about this incredible facility and how you can rent the space HERE.
Since its inception, Gitigaaning has welcomed thousands of people to heal, learn, grow, and connect with the land, community, and their ancestral ways. In doing so, the Fond du Lac community is reclaiming and building a sovereign, holistic food system rooted in Anishinaabe values that is environmentally responsible and empowers a thriving, resilient community.
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