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Digital Original: Minot nonprofit to begin community garden inspired by indigenous people of North Dakota

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Dan Conn, a professor of Teacher Education at Minot State University, is a member of the Minot community at the forefront of establishing a community garden across the street from the college campus.

A conversation with a group of graduate students sparked an idea to create a nonprofit that would help better educate Minot community members about the importance of ecological education.

“We ended up forming a nonprofit organization called Dream Big Green Schools. Some of the graduate students are from Michigan, with the rest of us being from North Dakota, myself being from Minot. So we made this nonprofit organization and kid of wanted to start with a good foundation,” Conn said.

Conn and his colleagues also wanted to incorporate ways of honoring the indigenous people of North Dakota into the garden. They have been working closely with the Native American Cultural Center on the campus of Minot State, along with the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

The group also took a trip to the Knife River Indian Villages to get inspiration on types of plants and gardening techniques.

Conn says the first thing the nonprofit wanted to do before beginning to plant was to recognize the native people of North Dakota.

“We wanted to start by giving a land acknowledgment ceremony where we acknowledge the people that have lived here before and some of their great traditions,” Conn said.

Conn says the group had planned to have a large scale event to celebrate the community garden before the annual Spring Honor Dance and Powwow held annually in the MSU Dome, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, things have changed.

“We have been planning this for a while, and then when the pandemic hit, that caused us to rethink things. But we are thinking that it will be closer to when the gooseberries bloom, so maybe that’s the way it was supposed to be all along,” Conn said.

Although there is no set date yet for the ceremony, Conn is excited about the educational opportunities the garden will provide to members of the Minot community, both young and old.

“We see it as an opportunity to learn about indigenous ways of farming, sustainability, and also about the earth and just appreciating how it works. And also trying to make a space for kids to learn about that,” Conn said.

To learn more about the community garden, along with other work the nonprofit is doing, click here.

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