Founded by a bold and visionary youth leader, Denise Miller of the Cayuga Nation and Wolf Clan, Revitalizing Our Sustenance Project (ROSP) began as a way to get young people involved in producing food within the Six Nations of Grand River Territory. Inspired by her own experiences and healing found in growing food, ROSP focuses on Indigenous foods, seed sovereignty, and land restoration. All of these programs help to achieve the goal of increasing access to Indigenous foods and environmental awareness within and outside the Six Nations community.
The purpose of ROSP is to strengthen Haudenosaunee identity, Indigenous community relations, language learning, and establish healthier outlets for Indigenous youth. Their focus is providing opportunities for learning through experiential and on-the-land education and intergenerational connections. As Indigenous youth, the founding team have all experienced gaps in knowledge transfer between generations, which is essential to regain Onkwehonwe, identity and teachings. ROSP focuses on bridging these gaps between generations through workshops, guest speakers, and other educational opportunities.
As the program and ROSP team grew, the community and land restoration needs became very evident over the summer months of 2021. As the project develops over time, the long-term goals identified are:
- Land restoration and revitalizing plant life
- Seed saving and community access to seeds
- Community food access
- Community engagement related to sustainable food growing
- Awareness and education around climate change, environmental health, and growing food
- Creating resources for land-based learning
Describing the core of ROSP’s purpose, Denise is quick to make connections between UNDRIP, climate justice and Indigenous rights. “Food is really political. We have the right to operate our own food sources. We have the right to nutritious, organic and non-GMO foods. These are our Treaty rights and young people need to be involved.”
Today their main focus is restorative landscaping, developing a greenhouse and storage, and completing all of the soil testing required to scale up. Looking to the future, ROSP’s all volunteer team aims to become autonomous and is working towards a permanent place to call home. Once they create this hub to do their work, they will continue growing the project and building a team to develop a healthy, whole, and sustainable ecosystem producing local and healthy foods for the community.
See the Haudenosaunee Lunar Calendar that guides ROSP’s growing seasons.