Preserving roots, future with Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation

Preserving roots, future with Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation

Six years ago, a 300-acre parcel of wooded land in North Stonington, Connecticut, had golden potential for bringing back traditional agricultural production and providing a place for reconnection of heritage.

A dirt road led into the property, and Jeremy Whipple, executive director of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Department of Agriculture, had a dream of building a farm for the tribe on the land and reconnecting to their agricultural roots. That parcel of land has transformed into Meechooôk Farm, a vibrant agricultural operation for the tribe.

“It’s brought back a lot of traditions that were lost,” says Whipple. “This project means everything to me because we’re growing food for our people and training family to grow their own food.”

Today, there are two parcels of land totaling 600 acres. The land is now used for production, with greenhouses growing hydroponic lettuce and tomatoes year-round, fruit plantings and livestock. There are plans to further expand the farm and the agricultural products they can grow. The goals of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation include to increase their food security by growing more of their own, and to improve the health outcomes of tribal members.

The transformation of the land was made possible through support from University of Connecticut Extension educators and the Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. USDA recently funded the project for an additional four years thanks to the success of Meechooôk Farm and other programs that strengthen the tribal community, their land and self-sufficiency.

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