NACC and YSFP Host Annual Fall Feast

December 16, 2022
by Molly Weiner

Originally posted on Voices, the Yale Sustainable Food Program student blog, on November 22, 2022.

Friday, November 11 looked a little different from the typical afternoon on the Yale Farm. Due to heavy rains, YSFP canceled the workday and moved Fall Feast, our final celebratory meal of the fall semester, to the Native American Cultural Center (NACC). 

Fall Feast is a yearly collaboration between NACC and YSFP. This year’s event was also cosponsored by the Native and Indigenous Student Association at Yale (NISAY); the Program in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration; and the Poorvu Center. 

Hi’ilei Kawehipuaakahaopulani Hobart, Assistant Professor of Native and Indigenous Studies, has partnered with YSFP since her arrival at Yale this fall. She brought students from her First Year Seminar, Indigenous Food Sovereignty, to the Farm for six visits over the course of the semester. Her students were an invaluable part of the preparations for the Feast. During their time on the Farm, the students put the Three Sisters to bed; threshed black turtle beans by hand; filled tea bags with Yale Farm-grown tea; milled corn and created cornbread mixes; chopped and roasted peppers; prepared the Three Sisters chili; and so much more, all in stewardship of the Three Sisters and in preparation for the Feast.

Erita Chen ’26, a student in the course, said the class’s visits to the Farm provoked “fascinating conversations about sustainable farming practices, labour, and capitalism…making for a unique discussion-based learning time.” 

Jaleyna Lawes ’26, another one of Professor Hobart’s students, reflected: “Fall Feast was a very fulfilling way to culminate our experience growing and preparing food on the Yale Farm in that same sense of community I felt threshing beans or cutting squash or spooning each of the Three Sisters into the chili pot. Every dish on my plate I could trace to a story or a lesson or a laugh on the Farm or in the classroom. Hearing from [Catherine Webb ’23,] the Seedkeeper, as well as about the Native food producers who contributed to the feast and other people who were a part of the process really fostered that feeling that those Farm visits were part of a larger community effort to bring food to the table.”

The Fall Feast menu centered beans, corn, and squash, the symbiotic indigenous polyculture known as the Three Sisters. The menu featured a Three Sisters chili, wild rice salad, beet poké, white cap & Ute Mountain blue cornbread, and chia pudding with popped amaranth and maple candied seeds. Students in ER&M040 had a hand in tending the Yale Farm beans, corn, squash, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, carrots, chilies, and eggs that contributed to the meal. We are grateful to Bow & Arrow Foods, Massaro Community Farm, NOH Foods of Hawai’i, Passamaquoddy Maple, Ramona’s American Indian Foods, Sweetgrass Trading Co., and Ute Mountain Tribe, the producers who supplied the meal’s other ingredients. 

Since 2017, YSFP has had a dedicated Three Sisters plot on the Farm. The NACC also has a garden where the Three Sisters are grown. Catherine Webb ’23, the YSFP and NACC Seedkeeper and programs liaison who has stewarded both these plots, offers reflections on her relationship with the Three Sisters in this poem. In her introduction, she also provides some of the history of planting the Three Sisters at Yale. Catherine notes that while she was the inaugural official link between NACC and YSFP, “Noah Schlager (Poarch Creek Band of Indians) and Kap`iolani Laronal (Haida/Tsimshian and Native Hawaiian) began the partnership and gardens in 2017,” when Noah Schlager YSE ’18 was a YSFP graduate student affiliate.

Attendees at this year’s Fall Feast (including Handsome Dan!) enjoyed the delicious meal, shared over warm conversation and community. To close out the event, Red Territory performed drum songs. 

YSFP extends our deepest appreciation to NACC, the YSFP Culinary Events Team, and all students and staff who made this event happen. We hope you’ll join us next year! 

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