The Mankiller Foundation is working with communities, churches and community members to create sustainable food projects in rural Cherokee communities.

These projects pair youth with adult mentors to learn more of their culture as they cultivate gardens and gather traditional wild harvests. The projects involve neighbors helping neighbors with everything from plowing to canning and preparing healthy food for community members in need.

One of the gardens is located at a working farm, where youth and their families learn canning and nutrition, proper fruit tree care, how to make cheese and soap, watch sheep be sheared and understand the process of making wool. Food produced can be used by participating families and shared at Cherokee community centers; some can be sold by community members at farm markets.

The healthy food production is important because these communities are generally food deserts and the projects also provide a tool for teaching good nutrition, youth leadership, entrepreneurship, and even math and science.