The Cultural Conservancy preserves indigenous tradition, food culture

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) — The Cultural Conservancy, an Indigenous-led non-profit organization, recognizes and uplifts the Indigenous community that has resided and cared for the land for centuries.

As CEO of The Cultural Conservancy, Sara Moncada is dedicated to preserving the indigenous tradition and practice of food culture by harvesting indigenous cultures from the land.

“Here at ‘Heron Shadow,’ we allow ourselves to have our food culture focus solely on traditional and heritage foods, or what we call our Indigenous eating habits,” Moncada explains.

Located in Sonoma County, the organization’s “Heron Shadow” serves as a biocultural heritage oasis by providing a space for the community to engage in the Indigenous practice of food production.

Indigenous communities are disproportionately affected by lack of access to nutritious, nutrient-dense food, leading to a host of health issues. The Cultural Conservancy is committed to revitalizing Indigenous agriculture and transcending non-nutritious diets by advancing towards healthier lifestyles.

“Diabesity is this deep-seated pandemic of diabetes and obesity that is hitting Indigenous communities at an extraordinary rate and a lot of it is related to a dislocation of your traditional foods,” Moncada explained. “How can we revitalize these foods that come from this landscape that then enter food systems and help the community’s health network?”

Growing and providing over ten thousand pounds of Indigenous foods to Indigenous communities in the Bay Area, The Cultural Conservancy’s work sits at the intersection of food, community and tradition.

Heron Shadow continues to tap into the potential of the earth and transform the landscape while striving to honor it above all else.

“One of the things that happened during the period of colonization was that we lost a lot, so much was lost and destroyed. So what that made us do was hang on more closely to what we had,” says Edward ‘Redbird’ Willie. , the land steward/land manager for The Cultural Conservancy. “Another thing we’ve learned here is that we’re allowed to dream big.”

Heron Shadow’s vision is that ideas of sustainability will continue to thrive and grow with the help and support of others, so that Indigenous food production models can endure for generations to come.

“We want Heron Shadow to be here and available as a place of connection, safety and sharing of knowledge for my daughter’s daughter’s daughter, for as many generations as we can dream of in the future,” Moncada said.

To learn more and support the Cultural Conservancy in its fundraising efforts, visit here.

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