Program Manager Wallace Ransom stated, "This is a positive
learning process for all of us, for myself and all of the
students involved." From left to right, bottom row, Levi Herne,
Bailee Rourke, Tisha Benedict, Mose McDonald, and Tristan
Cook-Hasty. Back row, (L to R) Clinton Atkins, Ethan Pervais,
Daniel Thompson, and Jheri White.
Herne joined this pilot project with previous experience raising
pigs, "I thought this was a next step in becoming food self-sufficient."
Benedict, pictured here, created the logo for Mother Earth
Gray, owner of Three Feathers Café and Catering, now
serves Mother Earth Eggs in their sandwiches and meals.
Nine Akwesasne youth recently launched the Mother Earth Egg
Pilot Project at the Three Feathers Café on Thursday, November
3, 2016. They include: Tristan Cook-Hasty, Levi Herne, Jheri White,
Mose McDonald, Daniel Thompson, Tisha Benedict, Ethan Pervais, Bailee
Rourke and Clinton Atkins, all high school students currently attending
the Akwesasne Freedom School, Cornwall Collegiate Vocational School,
Massena Central School and Salmon River Central School. The Saint
Regis Mohawk Tribe's Agriculture Program and the Office of Economic
Development are sponsors of the Mother Earth Egg project and hosts
of the evening.
The Mother Earth Egg Project provided a unique opportunity this
past summer for the nine local students in grades 9 to 11. They
began with 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.
During the press conference the Akwesasne youth shared their
experiences in raising chickens and producing eggs for sale to local
restaurants, businesses and to the local consumer as more and more
Akwesasronon have become aware and concerned over the food they
consume. Providing locally produced, organic and hormone free eggs
are one step in reaching food sustainability and food sovereignty.
Office of Economic Development Director Christopher Thompson said,
"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."
Agriculture Program Manager Wallace Ransom added, "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. 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."
After the students completed their summer training session,
the Agriculture Program staff helped construct chicken coops at
each student's home. Each student received upwards of 100 chickens.
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.
Levi Herne, one of the first youth to participate in the project,
was raising over 180 chickens at one time while waiting for other
students to finish their training. With past experience raising
pigs, Herne shared the gainful experience with his fellow students.
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. The students themselves
named their product "Mother Earth Eggs," with Three Feathers Internet
Café Owner Valene 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 aspects
of taking a product from farm to market, as well as for local business
looking for fresh produce," said Valene Gray. She noted, "For restaurants,
fresh eggs have reduced the amount of time required to cook and
prepare orders, which generates into increased sales. More and more
customers are concerned about the quality and origins of what they
are eating and providing farm fresh, organic eggs is perfect!"
Be sure to look for "Mother Earth Eggs" coming to a grocery
store or being served at a restaurant near you.