Akwesasne Youth Launch “Mother Earth Eggs” Pilot Project
Nov 4, 2016
AKWESASNE – On Kenténhkó:wa /November 3, 2016, the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Agriculture Program and the Office of Economic Development held a press conference to highlight a pilot project that involves Akwesasne’s newest product being produced by the community’s youngest entrepreneurs. Held at Three Feathers Internet Café, the event provided an opportunity for Agriculture Program workers, Economic Development staff and Akwesasne students to share their combined efforts and experiences with producing eggs for sale to local businesses and other consumers.
“The Office of Economic Development is proud to be working closely with the Environment Division’s Agriculture Program to advance food sovereignty and this project is the beginning of what is to come,” Office of Economic Development Director Christopher Thompson. He added, “We are putting future food production in the hands of our youth who will lead us into self-sufficiency. The experience and skills learned through this process are invaluable and will provide youth with the tools to succeed.”
This past summer, a unique opportunity was provided for nine (9) local students in grades 9 to 11 to participate in a training program that taught the process and practices involved with producing eggs. The program was conducted during the student’s summer break from school and offered at the Tribe’s Environment Division Boardroom, with instruction continuing throughout the fall with one-hour weekly sessions hosted on Thursday evenings.
“Our goal is to teach local youth how to raise and care for a flock of chickens, with the hope of having them earn money from their hard work for the eggs they produce,” said Agriculture Program Manager Wallace Ransom. He added, “It’s part of our program’s effort to increase understanding of agricultural production and promoting a healthy lifestyle through locally grown produce. It’s a pilot project, so we plan to make improvements and offer this opportunity to more youth in the near future.”
Upon completion of the summer training session, the Agriculture Program staff helped construct chicken coops at each student’s home in anticipation of receiving upwards of 100 chickens each. They were also supplied with feed and materials necessary to maintain them. Once the chickens arrived, further instruction was provided as their individual flocks began laying eggs this past month, with some student’s experiencing a daily production of 60 to 70 eggs.
Overall production is currently estimated at 60-dozen eggs a day for the project’s initial weeks, but is projected to be up to 400-dozen once maximum production is achieved later this month. At that point, the students hope to market their products to local restaurants and to make them available for purchase at local stores, hopefully beyond the Akwesasne community. To get them started the students named their product “Mother Earth Eggs,” with Three Feathers Internet Café Owner Val Gray being the very first Akwesasne business to place an order for 30-dozen eggs.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for students to learn all aspect of taking a product from farm to market, as well as for local business looking for fresh produce,” said Val Gray. She noted, “For restaurants, fresh eggs have reduced the amount of time required to cook and prepare orders, which generates into increased sales.” Gray not only uses the tasty eggs in the breakfast sandwiches and meals she prepares at Three Feathers, located at 759 State Route 37 in Akwesasne, but she also offers a catering business.
Akwesasne youth participating in the pilot project include Tristan Cook-Hasty, Levi Herne, Jheri White, Mose McDonald, Daniel Thompson, Tisha Benedict, Ethan Pervais, Bailee Rourke and Clinton Atkins. They currently attend the Akwesasne Freedom School, Cornwall Collegiate Vocational School, Massena Central School and Salmon River Central School.
The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe wishes much success to Akwesasne’s newest entrepreneurs. Be sure to look for “Mother Earth Eggs” coming to a grocery store or being served at a restaurant near you.
PHOTO CAPTION: The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Agriculture program held a press conference to launch a new pilot project with Akwesasne youth called “Mother Earth Eggs.” Students participating in the new economic venture include (from left, first row) Levi Herne, Bailey Rourke, Tisha Benedict, Mose McDonald and Tristan Cook-Hasty; (from left, second row) Clinton Atkins, Ethan Pervais, Daniel Thompson and Jheri White.
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The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Council is the duly elected and federally recognized government of the Saint Regis Mohawk People.