Investing in Regenerative Agriculture and Food

257 Zach Ben - Breaking down centuries of oppression through indigenous baby food

October 31, 2023 Koen van Seijen Episode 257
Investing in Regenerative Agriculture and Food
257 Zach Ben - Breaking down centuries of oppression through indigenous baby food
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

A conversation with Zach Ben, cofounder, along with his wife Mary, of Bidii Baby Foods, an indigenous baby food line created by farmers and new parents to increase access to traditional foods in early childhood. We talk about the role of farming and stewarding the land in Navajo Nation and the role of nutrition and health with newborns.

After centuries of oppression, violence, and genocide, could some healing and regeneration come from a baby food company? We explore that impossible question with Zach in a fascinating conversation also about the potential of healing centuries of horror one step at the time.

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Speaker 1:

After centuries of oppression, violence and genocide, could some healing and regeneration come from a baby food company? We explore that impossible question today, but we touch upon many things the role of farming and stewarding the land in another nation and the role of nutrition and health with newborns. Join me in a fascinating conversation, which I'm very sorry for the audio quality, which was very, very difficult to manage this time. I hope you can listen through it and enjoy the depth and feel the potential of healing centuries of horror, one step at a time. First step baby food. What are the connections between healthy farming practices, healthy soil, healthy produce, healthy gut and healthy people?

Speaker 1:

Welcome to a special series where we go deep into the relationship between regenerative agriculture, practices that build soil, health and the nutritional quality of the food we end up eating. We unpack the current state of science, the role of investments, businesses, nonprofits, entrepreneurs and more. We're very happy with the support of the Grandham Foundation for the protection of the environment for this series. The Grandham Foundation is a private foundation with a mission to protect and conserve the natural environment. Find out more on grandhamfoundationorg or in the links below.

Speaker 1:

Welcome to another episode Today, with Zachary Ben from the Navajo Nation co-founder, alongside with his wife, mary, of BD Baby Foods organically grown Navajo owned an indigenous baby food line created by farmers and new parents to increase access to traditional foods in early childhood. Welcome, zach Hi. Thank you for having me and, to start with a personal question that we always love to ask at the beginning is how did you end up focusing on soil and in this case, of course, baby food? But will let you how was your journey and notched or pushed or pulled I don't know which one of the three into focus and soil?

Speaker 2:

Yes, I think for me it's something that was a foundation that was provided for me by my parents, my life father especially.

Speaker 2:

I am a six generation farmer here on the Navajo Reservation.

Speaker 2:

I grew up farming.

Speaker 2:

I grew up playing in the ditches, playing in the waterways and understanding the land in that sense at a very young age, and so for me it was really about being able to be synchronized with your environment at a very young age, and being in sync allowed me to understand the soil health, the effects of continuously growing, year after year consecutively, and what that can do to your soil health, and being able to nurture the land and steward it as humans are intended to do so.

Speaker 2:

And this is something that was taught to me through Navajo philosophy and being able to have that relationship to the land and being able to have that connection of what you have extract you put back in, and so that's kind of how I grew up with those values and practices and now being able to then teach that to our current youth and our children. My wife and I have two kids and know, with that, being able to have that foundation be laid upon them so that way they can use that to continue to heal, to continue to provide that connection, food for their communities and ceremonies and have that relationship ultimately with the land.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and thank you for coming on because I know it's a very busy time with a recent new one. So congrats with that and we know the business. But what triggered that? From your farming the land for a long time and your family has been farming the land for a long time, but it still is quite a step to setting up a baby food brand, because if you're farming well, you can provide for your family and for your children and maybe also a few, let's say, circles around you. But setting up a baby food brand is a whole different bowl game and a whole different game in general. So what triggered that, to take that step?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think for me, taking those major steps was inspiration, yeah. So for us, a lot of the inspiration came from our children and when we first found out that we were pregnant, I think that's huge news. That's also a way of understanding the growth into parenthood. And so for us as providers, as parents, as farmers, what would that be? What would that next, crucial, next step be? And that was understanding the ability to have this food available for only ceremonies or celebrations and not readily available for where it's always in your pantry. And so, from that to also understanding, like it's kind of funny, because during this time was the pandemic time and for us we felt like you know, it felt like and seeing and experiencing well, food shortages that were happening around the world. And we felt like you know, this is something that you know why are we struggling when we have our own crops to manage and maintain and why would we have to rely on the current food system, which is very unstable, to provide for our family? Also, the instability of the nutritional intake that we're looking for. You know, with that nutritional intake, your intake is chemicals and the chemical processes and like reserve, really, as I go into the food just to have it, in quotes, fresh delivered to your door or local supermarket. You know why, as we, why, as us, as indigenous people, have to rely on Sam Walton to provide food for traditional food or baby food for our children.

Speaker 2:

So all of this was hitting us at once and we felt like, okay, it's up to us. It's up to us to make that next big step. And that started by producing our own crops, using our own heritage seeds. We don't use any type of herbicides or pesticides in our processes and practices, and so that's what really, you know, propelled us in a direction knowing that we have this traditional food that we can rely on and fall back on and, most importantly, provide for our babies. And so, you know, that's where we were able to then really move forward in that direction of, like, this first year's crop on our own is for our family, and from there, that's when, after planting that first year's crop, and our children were our son was eating those crops that we harvested, that fruit of that labor that we provided all year.

Speaker 2:

That reaction was something that we wanted for the rest of our communities. When you took that first bite of food that we provided as parents and as farmers, that was the next big step. That is what we needed for our communities and that's how it started. Through the growth of parenthood, through those changes that we go through as parents, mom goes through these biological changes, spiritual changes, physical changes. For myself, as a father, I wanted to also be a part of those changes, into that direction of what it means to be a father. With that, you're breaking cycles of trauma intergenerational, historical and being able to start healing here and now, using that farm as a foundation and being able to move forward in a direction that you are starting to build generational wealth using these crops and providing those fruits of labor to your children. That's how it was inspired and how we were able to now build this momentum.

Speaker 1:

Then where do you start? You start, obviously, by planting and harvesting and providing for your at that time son, your early child, of course, now their two. But then how does that evolve into our emergence into a brand with different products? What's the next step to think about processing? Was it very clear from the beginning what you wanted to be, the first products or the first things let's say, on shelf, quote, unquote to be sold, or did it also emerge over time?

Speaker 2:

We did our research. We looked into all the available traditional foods related to early childhood development and nutrition, and there was that.

Speaker 1:

You were pretty disappointed, aren't you?

Speaker 2:

Yes, we were surprised. That was also a major motivator into increasing that market access and that was to our end at the farm. That was something that we felt like we're as needed and it's going to be able to work for not only our children but more children to come and more children that are being created every day and born every day, and those are things that we felt like, wow, let's start this company in order to provide our positioning and grow this love and divide that, because we're going to need that for healing after the pandemic and being able to make that direction that we can use as a tool to heal our communities, as we have done with so within our ceremonies.

Speaker 1:

And so now we're talking September 2023. How would you describe the food company? How would you describe where you are now in terms of offering and what it means, and what is currently the baby food company? What shape or form you would describe it?

Speaker 2:

I think for us we're in a very unique position here on the Nellore Reservation because when we farm we farm using our own natural resources and so with that position we're able to also we should a lot of rotate, basically because the land that we farm on, we sit on land, the agricultural land use permits that are given to us by the Navajo government, which is at least from the US, there been it, and so with all of that oversight, there is no policy that will help us to move in that direction, that we can fully create economic stability on a farm. And I say that in regards to infrastructure like, for example, food stalls, dry and cold. We cannot build a permanent infrastructure on our agricultural land use permit, nor do we own it. So if we don't own it and we invest, for example, a million dollars into a facility, a commercial kitchen, food processing area, storage, both cold and dry, all the necessary equipment, the brick and mortar parts, logistics of that we won't own, and so those are things in touch with various that we see and using our momentum of who we are in order to then tackle down or amend a lot of those policies into our favorite as a small business, as an agricultural business as a community mirror and being able to move forward in most directions. And so, from that to being able to look at the success and achievements of our company the past year. Last year we've sold and provided fruit to over 6,000 children, and we look to double that number this year, this harvest season, and so that in itself is a huge accomplishment out of 15 acres of farmland.

Speaker 2:

And so, for us, we rely heavily on our community, and those are things that we're teaching a community now that we're able to bring education, awareness into why healthy, traditional foods are important for our diet, so that way we can prevent a lot of the health that most related to food, because the abomination is one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the country.

Speaker 2:

And so what we're doing is we're looking at a social return and investment by being able to read into the children that we're seeing now, and each child that has fed baby foods now has the ability to prevent those cycles of health elements related to food and other things that we feel like are progressing with each packet of baby food that we're able to provide back into communities. Not only that, but being able to establish their pallet at a very young age, those early, crucial years of development. Conservable 5, where now we're studying at preference for healthy food, food that is, foods that serve their own community Farmers. Those are things that you are able to experience now as, beneath it, it is going to be able to really provide those types of markets for our communities here on the Navajo reservation and, most importantly, options and opportunity.

Speaker 1:

How much of the 6,000 children you have provided? Are they all regional or nearby? Or what's the split in terms of your end consumers, which sounds really bad, their end customers, but the people that end up eating and benefiting from your baby food company, is that all around you or also further away?

Speaker 2:

It is around us. They're from neighboring communities to communities within our own here on the Navajo Nation. What I guess for us to get those numbers is we are part of a farm to school initiative slash program. There's a state in Mexico called the Mexico Ground Coalition. From there we're able to be a part of the food suppliers list, where we are able to evolve our foods to elder care, long-term age facilities and institutions, healthcare institutions, early childhood institutions, and being able to really increase our numbers through that route of markets.

Speaker 1:

And how would you describe your current line of foods for, of course, people that are not from your nation? As what part of your normal nutrition, your normal daily intake, is it mostly focused on the breakfast sign, on the snack, on dinner or lunch? Or what kind of role, what kind of meals are you replacing in that sense for children and babies?

Speaker 2:

So, for us, we're not, you know, about replacing foods. We're about, you know, adding in to your nutritional intake and that's the option that you do provide. And that's, you know, the baby fruit cereal. And so the cereal is related out of the added value process of steaming, nabbling the white corn underground and from there being able to dehydrate and process that and then mill got done and then packaged that for our consumers. And those are things that actually, like you know, people forget about those processes and that's why, you know, we're in today's diet agenda. You know it's. We are so quick to, oh, now you have access to algae traditional food, now you need to stop eating my Cheetos, but that's, you know, that's a part of our market, it's a part of our access, especially around the Navajo Nation, where you have a grocery store every other 10,000 miles, 10,000 square footed in miles, and 10,000 square miles you get, you know, one grocery store that you know is up there in terms of more of your access. And you know you kind of wondering why we're in the predicament that we are in with the data of, you know, type two diabetes. And so, for us, the baby foods you're able to boil that after we dehydrated and packaged it. You're able to rehydrate that into creating like a porridge, like a cereal, like a crema wheat, or you can use it as a flour additive in the same instance that you would use almond flour, for example. You can add in, you know, baby foods or corn cereal, or you can also mix it into some ingredients for baking for ourselves, for example, on our Instagram page at bittybabyfoods. From there, we were able to have recipes on there on our website at bittybabyfoodsorg, where we're able to make, like a parfait granola bar, being able to, for example, like meat low my wife made the meat low, yeah, instead of replacing the breadcrumbs with bitty baby foods, you know from that to like macrons, being able to make and incorporate the bitty baby foods a part of the recipe. Like.

Speaker 2:

It's a very versatile product and that's something that we're looking to because you know we were consumer minded and especially consumers that are coming off the reservation where, you know, 30% of our people still don't have running water and electricity, and so you know those are things that we are accommodating through our product by making it friendly to their infrastructural needs, but also to price wise as well. Very affordable product $10,. You know we could easily charge more for how unique the product is in itself. But you know, for us we're not looking for a whole net profit. We're looking at the ability to continue to invest back into our community slash farm and that starts by understanding your community and how you want to market this product within your community. So those are a lot of the ways that this product is a part now as an option in our current workflow systems.

Speaker 1:

And you mentioned specifically on the website as well and so before, the nutrition focus of the company and the nutrient density and the way that it's connected. Of course I'm saying it, of course, here, but that's because we were running a full series and that, and then a lot of interviews around it but the way it's connected to your farming principles or the practices you use and what results you get out of that, is it something that connection? Healthy soil, healthy produce, healthy gut system, healthy people that's something you see as a unique point of view as well, or you see something of like that it's getting more interested, say, from the end consumer, getting more interest from your customers, or something that you clearly share on the website, but it's not the most important thing for for the people that buy, that end up by or purchase your produce, how important is nutrient density and flavor, of course, starting to become in your, your conversations you have and with with your, with your customers?

Speaker 2:

Oh gosh, this is a big question for us because this is something that is a part of our mission and being able to break down those systems of oppression by systemically rebuilding our food waste here on the novel reservation, and by being able to relate the soil health with farmer, the household or food that we provide to our community, and that's through the traditional practices Regenerative agriculture is a sexy term that's being passed around nowadays that that's something that, as indigenous people, we have been doing since time immemorial, by having that relationship to the soil, by having that connection to the water and to the seeds and being in to steward and nurture these elements and being able to provide food by you know, being able to understand your soil health, and those are things that I show, like you know, we, as indigenous people, I've been doing for a very long time was something that was taught to me and a very original values of you know, not ever having to rely on synthetic fertilized beer or synthetic methods and providing that to your, to your people to eat, and the reason why we stick by these, these, these values and these principles. So much is because now you know this is something that we're providing to our ceremonies and you know, when we, when we're out there and we're growing this foreign, and when we also go out there to cook corn pollen and collect that corn pollen and to protect pollen is life. That pollen is from the, from the tops of the stops and wills on castles. It falls down into the silk of the ears of the foreign and that's when the reproduction cycle begins. And now we are part of that, that cycle of life for the corn and and it seems, and the food that it may provide for our communities and, most importantly, our ceremonies. So in ceremonies we use that pollen to offer back to our deities and to our elements and, synchronizing ourselves with the universe, at dawn every morning, we'll take that pollen and we'll offer it to the east you stand there waiting for it and sunrise we'll do that there and then from there we'll also do it in ceremony. And so, through these cultural parts of these foods, this is how we are feeding our culture, by establishing that connection to these elements and synchronizing ourselves as humans to be a part of that universe.

Speaker 2:

And those are things that we are forget, that we forget even in modern day. Regenerative practices that we're so busy looking at the data with science aspects of nutrient density, soil density and how that we're forgetting about the spiritual components that make up that scientific conclusions and data. You know we can't measure, we can't measure spirit, spiritual data but we can measure it through how we feel by and I say that in regards to the innate tools that are inside of us as human beings. You know we're so used to seeing things through a microscope, but you know our eyes are one of the the the best optical tools and that's something that we cannot mimic. And so you know, when we see things, we feel things through that vision and that perspective and we put put away, we put aside some of those tools up today so that way we can fire up our internal hard drive to then calculate and analyze that data and store it and then continue to teach it and transfer it on over to future repositories, our culture repositories, like our children. And that's how we see data, that's how we take care of our technical, ecological knowledge and being able to have that continuously practice on our farmlands and the food that we provide for our communities.

Speaker 2:

And that is something so special to me, because that is something that our leaders have fought for, our warriors and our ceremonial leaders that fought for the treaties that the 1864, when our Nalbovo people took the long walk to the Basque of Redondo. And I bring up this history because during that time our people suffered. They suffered because they could not plant, they could not farm on the soil that they were in camp at. And that was intentional, because the US government knew we as Nalbovo people Dineh people lived an agrarian lifestyle. We had to live with water, good soil and seeds, but they didn't provide any of that. So because of that, we became reliant on the commodity foods that the US government was then providing for our people. So our leaders fought hard, both physically and advocateably, to be able to get us into the position that we are at now, with having one of the largest Indian reservations in the nation, but also a reservation that was connected to the San Juan River, the Colorado River.

Speaker 2:

Chief Barbensito fought for that right to have access to water when they wanted to migrate us down south more, but they all fought for us being in the place that we are at because he knew our people, our culture and our ceremonies would not live past 100 years if they did not have access to that water.

Speaker 2:

And so once we got access to that water. He said now my children will be able to live and see to each horizon green growth of corn on the eastern horizon, the southern horizon, the western horizon and the northern horizon, in each direction that you'll see, you'll see prosperity with the green of the corn that is growing on our lands now. So, with that prosperity, maybe live a happy, peaceful life. And those are things that are documented in the treaties that were signed during that time. And so, because of that, each acre that we farm, each currency that we save and feed our children, that is an answer to that prayer. But also, most importantly, that living prayer is now being established and by being able to continue to protect those water and land rights to the state so that for us, those living baby foods, that's how we see regenerative agriculture, that's how we see breaking down in cycles of oppression and systemic changes that have happened to us with first contact and being able to continue to kill our communities and rebuild that generational wealth that was severed with first contact.

Speaker 1:

Wow, first of all and there's so many things to unpack there, but I would love to start. I mean, it sounds of course the position you're in now, compared to what it could have been, is very different. But at the same time you're mentioning you cannot build any physical infrastructure and owning it and like there's still a lot to break down. But I wanted to ask a different question and you mentioned Regener Ag or regenerative agriculture now is a sexy term and obviously comes from or like indigenous peoples like yourself have been doing this for centuries or as long as we know. How does it make you feel Like suddenly the hipness and suddenly everybody not everybody, but it seems like everybody. Of course, in our bubble we talk about it all the time and the podcast seems to be talking about soil and the connection and the practices and plowing and all of that, but definitely not all of the spiritual and cultural party mentioned. How does it make you feel all the new people to the party in that city?

Speaker 2:

I say welcome, it's a bit late, yeah, welcome. Yeah, yeah, and I think that's something that has been, you know, we will work in towards, as Western farmers and agriculturalists, so being able to completely understand their relationship to these new lands that they now reside on, and so you know it's an amazing statement, the new lands that are now reside.

Speaker 1:

On the other day I was reading somewhere to renew a charter call, but it seems like we and I'm definitely using the we here of non-indigenous people we still seem to be with one foot on the boat, like when we came with first contact, and with one foot on land. We haven't really decided yet if we're going to stay for a long time, and that shows in our actions which I found a very nice way of putting that and yeah, we're still figuring out our relationship to the land and haven't been really listening. I think very well, yeah.

Speaker 2:

And that's something that you know we need more of is, you know, more listening, like you said, like being able to completely understand and listen to not only each other, but the land and what it can provide for us and the opportunity that it may make it If you work with it. If you don't work with it, it will not give those opportunities to you, and that's something that is a huge example of all of what I'm talking about is you know the dust bowl that happened in Midwestern. You know United States, where you know Western methods of agriculture. You know turned healthy soil that they took from Indigenous people and thinking that, oh, let's say, can do it, we can do it, but we're going to do it our way. And look what happened they paid for it and they're paid, and they're still paying for it to this day. And so you know those are things that we have seen.

Speaker 2:

You know, for example, a really good example that I love to bring into this art is you know the buffalo the buffalo that they annihilated and almost became extinct due to the scorched earth trials.

Speaker 2:

You know the US government knew that the Indigenous people relied on the buffalo and the buffalo relied on the people, so they could only take one out of the equation and that was the buffalo. And so you know, the buffalo's saliva is what provides those ancestral seeds and grasses to be able to grow housey on those winds, especially on the prairie, and those are things that they understood, that they studied and researched, and that's how they were able to get the people to do what they needed by controlling the buffalo. So examples like that, you know, and being able to continue to heal to this day from such a genocide, I feel like now we're able to move forward in that direction. Now, with the ability of, like the equipped grant that's provided by the USDA, these we're doing the viticultural practices that everybody is understanding now that they want to be able to provide a future for their children to farm and grow on. So those are some heavy examples that I bring to the table that I feel like you know we forget about as modern-day regenerative, artificial.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and also, I would almost add, modern-day scientists as well. If we understood at that time the importance of the buffalo, we're sort of rediscovering now how important that keystone species was and is. And now, with a lot of work, we're trying to bring back 1% of the numbers, and it's an enormous effort to restore a very small piece of the depth and of the enormous traumas that we caused. Of course. And switching gears to a second, because you said we need to listen much better this morning, when you were waiting for the sunrise, what did you hear? Well, I think that if you want to share, of course, yeah it's a big comment.

Speaker 2:

Well, I heard this morning my children, you know, wanting juice, wanting breakfast, wanting to eat. So you know, those are things that you know. We have to continue to contribute and grow for our children in that sense. So, for me, I hear those prayers being spoken but not answered. So what can we do as, again, parents, providers, farmers, to be able to provide for that and answer those types of prayers that are, and we'll talk about, every morning or within some of the settings, and being able to feel our community and what do you see, if at all?

Speaker 1:

but what do you see, if yes, as a role for money in this transition? And of course, in this podcast we talk about investments very broadly. It could be a lot of different things, but definitely also financial investments, or at least money investments to unlock certain things, to speed up certain things. But we also know how destructive the tool of money can be, just like fire and potentially bison and other, if not managed or if not respected and if not facilitated well, and so, coming back to the money piece, what do you see the role of money in this, if we can call it regenerative transition?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so I love this question a lot because you know, this one was talking about like being able to use colonial systems and being able to continue traditional life ways.

Speaker 1:

If, if that's the dance, that's the dance we dance in this podcast like can we somehow use all that zeros and the zeros we've created to To speed up healing? Yes or not. Maybe there's the answer. It could be like just forget about it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and that's something that I love to know your, your and shifting gears, like you said, like that's something that we are very good at as indigenous people is adapting to our current environments and conditions. And with that, you know, adapting to now and what we need to be a part of these systems we need to be a part of. You know, by contributing to capitalism, we got a pair of taxables, them. So you know, with that, you know, we Also have the ability to control our business model and how we're able to have that approach. You know, looking at a social capacity to build rather than an individual one more, you know, being able to have a non-capitalistic approach where we're not looking to Collect every penny that we can from our communities that are also impoverished.

Speaker 2:

And so, for myself, you know personal experience, like I grew up in to impolimus, I grew up on staff, maybe to woman, if in children Benefit programs provided by the government, being able to be a part of us, I guess Ways of growing up. I saw, like you know, what can we do to not continue those cycles of of Partship Back into our communities? And that was something that I felt like was important through my building the generational well, like for me, you know, only thing that I can inherit from my parents is land use permits, raising rights, but not, you know, a 401k or Not, a savings account or something that will help me to propel if I wanted to education my current business, investment into my children's savings accounts for their college education. You know, these are things I will thinking about now as parents, mary and myself, and that's something that needs to be provided to to for their future, because that's the type of environment and system that they will grow up in. And so with that, you know, for us we have a hybrid business model. We have an LLC I've been a very food LLC and you have a five one C three called the Benin incident. Ben is an acronym for birth, environment and nutrition, so gave a hybrid business model. We're able to apply for grant funding, Use and and get in philanthropy money and get in donations throughout. Five was a free that can then immediately be put into programming where we are teaching these values.

Speaker 2:

We are teaching these Agricultural practices, traditional agricultural practices, back into our community, build capacity and Bring the education and awareness to why coffee, traditional foods, are important for our Communities, and that's seen, and by collaborating with local entities. One, one great example is tumbleweed nutrition LLC, who is the name backs when she has RD. She's RD and a registered diet patient like being able to collaborate and create events that are around. You know when we have an event we had an event a couple a month ago when it's called one pollen to cuisine, where we, as David David foods, will go out and teach the community how to collect and harvest pollen, the this, the cultural significance to that, and deney was doing a Cooking class and and recipe development and curriculum development of you know why you know this nutritional intake is important, but also how you can include it to everyday plates, and so, with that approach, we are healing our community in that sense and not shaming them, not shaming them to say you should not be eating span, you should, we should not be eating fried bread. You know those are things.

Speaker 2:

So we're setting was examples out by teaching our children here and now, on the farm, while we collect more pollen and eat healthy food together. And so those are the components he brings to your table by having this hybrid business money and then allow see-sight of things is Providing them, using that revenue where we can then invest into equipment heavy equipment, like you know tractors, seeds, shovels, no, no different tools that we may need for the farm to help us maintain it. So that way we're not having to think about, oh, we're gonna need this many kind of synthetic fertilizer or we're gonna need To bring in some herbicide. We don't have to ever think in that direction because we're able to use that revenue. So we help in saving because of the offset class that the 5-1-2-3 provides for business, that we're able to move in that innovative Forward thinking direction.

Speaker 1:

That will be a just great future for our children to thrive it, not survive it and what if we would like flip the conversation in that sense and put you in the driver's seat of Relatively large? I mean? It's a lot of money for any standards, but somehow in this world it seems like not so much anymore. We guess we get the billions thrown around constantly. Not many people have them, obviously, and but if you would be in charge of a billion dollars to put to work, we could argue if it's Good to have such a concentration in one person's hand. But let's, let's put that aside for another, another podcast. But let's say it's the case and you wake up tomorrow morning and and that's the case, but you have to put it to work.

Speaker 1:

I'm not asking for dollar amounts. I'm asking what would be your priorities? What would you focus on first if you had almost unlimited, let's say, financial resources? But would be your main Area of attention? Where would you put most of the money to to be put to work and how would you? How would you do that?

Speaker 2:

So I think, one special thing that I would say towards from my dad's full wish when I was growing up, I would always see all these problems within my community and I would tell my dad, as we drive in by, that they should do this, they should do that, they should fix this. How come they don't buy this? And you know, fix this. And he's like talking we're talking together with this little example from son. Who's they?

Speaker 2:

I looked at it, I don't, I don't know, but you know people, politicians, and you know like leaders, and he's like, wow, yeah, and he was like, oh well, they're obviously doing anything right now, yes, we are in a position that we are at, unfortunately, but If you use the farm, if you use these values that I've taught you, then why don't you be the day you can be the day, son, and look Denning's looking at straight? So here we are all about 20 years later, thinking about that and you know, that's what we're providing for our community now. That's what we're providing for our children by it's by establishing these opportunities, by using that farm and Using that farm as a huge opportunity for our children to grow up and understand and have that relationship to the land. But, most importantly, how did? How to steward it, how to take care of it, how to take care of investments as grants, our investments into capacity building, into program implementation and development. So all of that investment is being taken care of and we're teaching that to our children now, who grew up in cycles of financial illiteracy and Not having Availability to resources or opportunities related to economic development and growth.

Speaker 2:

We don't have an economic development center dedicated to our youth or specific communities. That, for example, our agriculture community in the Northwest region of New Mexico. We don't have an economic development center. If we were to put remote Centers like that where we can take the youth, teach them financial literacy, teach them capacity building, workforce development, and, and and have access to the land and water. You know, because for us, we were farming up 15 acres. If we had a billion dollars, we could invest into so much more across the Navajo Nation and and protect our water rights and land rights. Do that investment rather than thinking about, oh, I wish we could do this, I wish we could do that.

Speaker 2:

But what makes this unique in this question is that you know a set of waiting for a billion dollars. We're doing it here, now, today. We did, we're doing it. We have already finished successful projects yesterday. Now is we're planning today and investing, continuing to invest into our future. So, for us, we're building that billion dollars. We're building up and, and, and. Those are things that we're thinking about now.

Speaker 2:

As you know. You know I'm tired. I am, I was, I was tired of wishing For a million dollars or a billion dollars to drop into my pocket. But I have to work for it, I have to advocate for it and, most importantly, I have to save for it and invest all of that back into my community of agriculture and that way, my children have that generational wealth to fall back on but, most importantly, and grow with. Say that way and that's why I talked to the regards of you know, building, you know all the people where our children are not going to Survive in that dragon, and that's what we're doing now and that's how, if and eventually, billion dollars does happen.

Speaker 1:

That's the type of future that land is any and as a final question, which usually ends up being more questions, but if you had the power, I like to call it the magic wand question. So if you had the power to change one thing, it could be on a global level, it could be consciousness, it could be better taste, it could be. People have said and all agriculture subsidies, people have said, make roundup illegal, anything you can possibly imagine. What would that be, but one thing only? What would you change tomorrow morning? Or what would you change overnight?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, if I had the magic wand, I think the one thing that I would change is the ability to have access to our land. And that land is a lifeline. That land is a CERC, culturally, ceremonially, and those are things that I feel like. If we were to own our land 100%, not 80%, not 50%, 100% then those opportunities would continue to arise and our ceremonies and culture will begin to flourish even more. That's my magic wand and that's coming from a person who has gone through and survived a lot of hardship. But you know, the land is your connection to your ceremony, a connection to your inner self, and with that we'll continue to heal your self-created community and hopefully teach these values and continue on. And that's where I see opportunity and that's where I want that opportunity to be relaying. So that's all All the C money. It's that connection to the land that you reside on.

Speaker 1:

It's a perfect question to answer to this question and also a great way to wrap up this conversation. I want to thank you so much for taking time in your very busy early days of your second child and, of course, very busy days in terms of the company and the nonprofit, and thank you so much for sharing your work, sharing your passion and sharing your reasoning why and how you're building this, the impact you're having. So thank you so much for coming on and, of course, thank you for the amazing work you're doing.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for giving us the ability to share our voice and share our initiatives. The most important one is seeing how others can get on board For our listeners. We invite you to come on out to the farm and experience what we're experiencing on an everyday basis. So please reach out on our email, reach out on our website at bittybabyfoodsorg, and we'd be happy to host you your hands and seeing how we can continue to work for a prospering treat for our children. Thank you.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I will put all the links, obviously, in the show notes below so you can have a look. Follow them on Instagram, follow their newsletters and, if you're in the area or you want to travel, definitely go and visit and spend some proper time, quality time on the land to listen and to see with your own eyes and all the other senses what true regeneration looks and feels like.

Speaker 2:

I'll see you later, thank you.

Speaker 1:

Thank you so much for listening all the way to the end. For the show notes and links we discussed in this episode, check out our website investing in regenderagriculturecom forward slash posts. If you liked this episode, why not share it with a friend or give us a rating on Apple Podcasts? That really helps. Thanks again and see you next time.

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