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Forest County Potawatomi Farm to box locally produced food for tribal members through USDA program

Theran Ahton plants lettuce in floating boards that will go in the aquaponics tanks.
Katie Thoresen
Theran Ahton plants lettuce in floating boards that will go in the aquaponics tanks.

To the side of the storefront of the Forest County Potawatomi Farm in Laona is a room dedicated to aquaponics farming.

The aquaponics farm is two long water tanks that nearly take up the entire length of the room.

The far tank has floating platforms bursting with varying shades of green and dark purple lettuce.

“Everything back there is our tribal elder food boxes right now. That is the harvest for that,” said Lindy Carroll. She’s the sales and marketing coordinator for the farm.

For a couple of years now, theForest County Potawatomi Farm has been providing food for tribal elders through the Tribal Elder Food Box program.

It’s what it sounds like, a box filled with locally produced vegetables, meat, and other food products that are given to tribal elders at no cost.

The farm recently received a $200,000 grant from the USDA. It will allow them to continue that program and expand it to other tribal members.

“We are in a very large food desert. People have to travel to Rhinelander, Iron Mountain, and Antigo to usually get to a bigger grocery store to get their food. It’s wonderful that everything is fresh and here and available for them,” said Carroll.

The farm will pack up 100 boxes a month under the new program. The logistics of what food and how the distribution will go are still being worked out.

Carroll says the important part is the tribal members will now have more access to locally grown, healthy food.

“It’s all about the tribal members and strengthening our food sovereignty. Taking care of our tribal members, making sure they have healthy options, especially from things grown in our area, it’s wonderful that these products are out here. That we can do this for them,” said Carroll.

Carroll says the first boxes will go out as soon as the fresh produce grown for them becomes available.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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