COACHELLA, CA – The Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians recently received a grant from First Nations Development Institute (FNDI) through the California Tribal Fund. The $50,000 grant, awarded in April 2022, focused on growing three seasons worth of organic produce at the tribe’s Temalpakh Farm.
The tribe created Temalpakh Farm – meaning “from the earth” in Cahuilla – to grow healthy, organic food for its neighboring communities. Farm construction began in 2014 and the tribe opened Temalpakh Market in 2022. Former Tribal Chairperson Mary Ann Martin began the project nearly a decade ago and Martin’s daughter, current Tribal Chairperson Amanda Vance, guided the tribe to realize her mother’s dream.
Visitors to the market may purchase the produce procured from the roughly 50-acre farm and try the fresh-picked ingredients in made-to-order drinks from the smoothie bar. A classroom to teach about the tribe’s culture, history and organic farming will soon be available to local educational outlets.
“We are grateful for the funding from FNDI to expand our mission of providing locally sourced organic produce,” said Vance.
With the grant, the tribe purchased: seeds including black radish, brussel sprouts, artichoke, and three different types of green beans; a disc plate to assist in breaking up the soil, enhancing soil texture and eliminating weeds; a plow machine to aid in the preparation of subsurface soil before discing the area; and equipment from Agri-Carts to transport the harvest and farm equipment.
Additionally, the grant funded purchases for the farm’s educational center. The classroom’s equipment – including 10 tablets and cases, chairs and tables, microscope slides and children’s books – will help students learn about Native American culture and sustainability both on and off the farm.
“The grant helped us improve the operation in many ways, from our ability to prepare the ground each season, to the variety of vegetables we have to offer, to how we harvest and transport our crops,” said General Manager John Frank.
Ever expanding, the farm currently harvests 8.5 acres of dates, including Medjool, Barhi, Deglet Noor, Zahidi, in a total of 18.5 acres dedicated to dates. Another 8.5 acres are dedicated to vegetable production.
Fulfilling the tribe’s mission to reach its neighbors, locals may enjoy the farm’s seasonal offerings through the market’s Farm Box. Each box includes seasonal produce that comes directly from the farm.