News

November 16, 2021

Native Eyes at MPTN

September 13, 2019

MPTN Agriculture Extension Program

In partnership with UConn Extension, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation received a four-year grant from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s Federally Recognized Tribes Extension Program (FRTEP) in FY19. The Program is designed to help tribes develop strong foundations in agriculture production, improve food security, and ensure better health.

The FRTEP funds programs on reservations and other Tribal jurisdictions that address the unique needs of tribes by providing education and research-based knowledge to those who might not otherwise receive it. The program
helps to strengthen Tribal communities through 4-H and Tribal youth development, agriculture and natural resource management, and entrepreneurship and business development.

Through the program, UConn Extension provides the MPTN with education in state-of-the-art sustainable vegetable and fruit production techniques, which is melded with traditional and historical Tribal methods. In FY19, the MPTN successfully developed greenhouse facilities complete with high tunnels, rototillers, plastic mulch layers, and cold storage for commercial farming. The Tribe also began receiving the expertise of UConn Extension through one-on-one consultation as well as classroom and hands-on training.

With the goal to reduce the risk and incidence of diabetes at Mashantucket, UConn Extension’s Nutrition Team also works with the Tribal Health Department to deliver educational programming in healthy eating and diabetes prevention using classroom education, as well as hands-on learning in the selection and preparation of healthy food and exercise through gardening.

Tribal Youth are included in all aspects of the program with the expectation that several youth will one day develop major roles in the agricultural business. Youth and adults are also learning about Mashantucket Pequot agricultural history and how to successfully integrate traditional practices into today’s modern sustainable agriculture.

*Excerpted from a UConn Extension article from September 13, 2019, by Stacey Stearns and Shuresh Ghimire