At its 30-acre farm in Hugo, Minnesota, Dream of Wild Health seeks to grow healthy futures for Native youth in the Twin Cities area while providing healthy food for the region.
Dream of Wild Health’s stated mission is to “restore health and well-being in the Native community by recovering knowledge of and access to healthy Indigenous foods, medicines and lifeways.” It does so by engaging annually with more than 3,000 Native and non-Native students and visitors through farm tours, workshops, community feasts, school tours and summer programs. Dream of Wild Health serves Minnesota’s 11-federally recognized tribes though youth leadership training and by providing healthy, organic foods to Elders.
Through its youth leadership programs students from surrounding Tribal nations learn about the importance of locally grown food, soil management, and the business of farming. Students are taught to respect the Earth as they respect one another.
In 2020 Dream of Wild Health purchased 20 additional acres, bringing its farm to 30-acres total. Executive director Neely Snyder says the expansion was planned before the pandemic, but that events of 2020 have underscored the need for stable, healthy food sources for Native communities in the Twin Cities area. Neely, an enrolled member of the St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin Tribe, grew up in the Twin Cities area and is a graduate of the Circle of Leadership program of Native Americans in Philanthropy, a development program designed to educate and empower Native American leadership in the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors.
Dream of Wild Health, together with the Minneapolis American Indian Center, helps provide 100 free meals a day to Elders in the region. The program is supported in part via a grant Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation grant.
Dream of Wild Health sells its organic produce through its Indigenous Food Share Program. Customers preorder boxes full of fruits and vegetables on a weekly or seasonal basis. It also has a booth at the Four Sisters Farmers Market from July to October.
Dream of Wild Health also cares for a seed collection that began in 2000 when Cora Baker, a Potawatomi elder, donated her lifetime collection of seeds. Since then, the collection has grown to more than 200 varieties of rare bean, corn, squash and other seeds that have been continued for generations of Seed Keepers from across the country. The seeds are grown and shared with others to keep these varieties alive and part of Native diets across the country. Among the most special in the collection are corn kernels donated by a family whose ancestors carried the original corn on the Cherokee Trail of Tears.
Dream of Wild Health also sells its Youth Leader Cookbook that features recipes selected and approved by the Dream of Wild Health Youth Leaders, in accordance with the Youth Leader’s Healthy Food Policy. A range of healthy recipes cover everything from salads to desserts, and are all based on produce grown at the farm.
Dream of Wild Health welcomes all to visit their farm, and schedules public events throughout the year. Visit their website at dreamofwildhealth.org, and also their Facebook and Instagram pages for more information.