Rebecca Yoshino was first introduced to organic farming growing up in Harlemville, a small farming community in Upstate New York. As a teenager, she started working as an intern and then field hand for a biodynamic, organic farm and orchard outside of Harlemville. “I developed a love and appreciation for a day of hard work and the many challenges and rewards that accompany organic farming,” she said. She went to college, traveled around the world, and then ended up in Minnesota. After years on a different career path, she quit her job and returned to organic agriculture in 2007, working for a farm in Wisconsin and another in Minnesota. She joined the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community in 2010. “I have felt very blessed to be a part of this farming project and to be able to serve the Community,” she added. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.
As Wozupi’s program coordinator, Angelica Adams gets to witness children taking their gardens from bare soil to a bountiful harvest. She also gets to manage a pair of adorable goats! Adams has extensive experience teaching environmental and garden-based curriculums, and believes education can establish connections between people, land and health. Originally from California, Adams worked and attended college in the Pacific Northwest, and then moved to Minneapolis in 2007. “I love working on the land, in the fields, and with hands in the soil. In my free time, I take an interest in medicinal and native plants, traveling internationally, cooking, mountain-biking, and planning for my future farm venture,” she said.
From garden planning in the winter to the break-neck pace of the growing season, Matt Smaus is responsible for producing the finest vegetables he can and getting them to you in tip-top shape. His love for the natural world started during childhood in his dad’s abundant Los Angeles garden, and on hikes in the sagebrush chaparral of California’s coastal ranges. His love for farming took root during his “traveling twenties,” when he was impressed with the capabilities, knowledge, and grit of small farmers around the world. “I love the rhythms and flows of farming,” he said. “It is both an art and a science, and I am especially thrilled by the sophisticated ways in which ancient wisdom and modern innovation braid together in the practice of organic agriculture.” He is married and has a toddler that follows him around in the garden, pulling up plants.
As the orchard supervisor, Lisa Myslajek’s goal is to foster holistic, mutually-beneficial relationships between communities and the land. Working towards this goal, she earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental horticulture and organic methodologies at the University of Minnesota. Before coming to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, she managed a small orchard of organic apples, pears and plums. At Wozupi’s orchard, Myslajek uses a holistic approach, incorporating organic and biodynamic methods with permaculture principles. “By acknowledging the orchard as a sacred space, we can find balance and nourishment in many forms,” she said. A lover of hot, humid weather, dancing and gymnastics, Myslajek lives in Minneapolis with her daughter.
Andy joined the Wozupi Tribal Gardens team in November of 2015. He has more than two decades of experience in medicinal herbs and vegetable production, and immediately put it to good use. Within a few months, he added heated mats, automatic watering, a pinpoint seeder, and a temperature-controlled germination chamber. Wozupi can now grow herbs and some crops year-round, and can more efficiently plant, sprout and water in the greenhouse. Over the next few years, he will build several more high tunnels, increasing production overall. And he’s just getting started.