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Akiptan’s Owóžu (Garden) Program

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

On March 28th, 2023, Akiptan hosted its first Owóžu (pronounced oh-woh-juh, meaning garden in Lakota) Program. Akiptan’s Owóžu Program assists Native American gardeners across the United States in building their knowledge to grow a successful gardening business to create value-added products.

Akiptan has created 4 online workshops for all levels of gardeners who were interested in building their understanding of creating a gardening business with the goal of offering value added products. A small garden grant was offered to the first ten participants to help them to purchase production supplies.

“ Food security in Indian Country is so important. We were ecstatic to pilot our Owozu program this year. We got to help people turn garden projects into garden businesses. We can’t wait to do it again next year. - Skya Ducheneaux, Executive Director

Participants interested in starting a small garden business and learning about value-added products were invited to apply for the 4 week - virtual gardening workshops which were facilitated by knowledgeable presenters working within the Native Agriculture industry. The first session began on March 28th, 2023, and ran through April 19th, 2023 via Zoom. The modules included business plan development, planting a successful garden, garden management and harvesting and understanding value-added agriculture.

Module 1, Business Plan Development was facilitated by Dawn E. LeBeau, Akiptan’s Program Officer. Participants were able to learn about the key components of a business plan that included; the description of their business, industry and market analysis, organization and management structure, operational documents needed, SWOT analysis, financial planning, and other supporting pieces for their business plan. The Akiptan Business Plan Template was made available to the participants to utilize as a template. This template is available on the Akiptan website in the Application Materials section.

Module 2, Planting a Successful Garden was presented by Jessika Greendeer of Dream of Wild Health. The module included details on garden planning; what to grow, where, understanding your garden soil and what size of garden one should grow while thinking of the number of people you will be growing food for. Key topics also included; seed saving, soil foundation, and cover crops.

Module 3, Garden Management and Produce Harvesting was also presented by Jessika Greendeer and included topics of succession planting, soil health indicators, and soil conservation.

Module 4, Understanding Value-Added Agriculture was presented by Meagan Baldy, Food Safety Specialist, Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative. The module included Food Safety and Regulations, Food Preservation, Value-Added Product, Selling at a Farmers Market, and additional information around existing value added products in Native American communities.

My goal is to create a community garden, understand how to have a successful garden, as well as producing products to be sold at the garden or farmers market. Ultimately, when my garden is successful I would like to branch out and become a farmer and produce on a large scale. I intend to be able to provide food for our elder and youth programs and eventually our Quechan-owned businesses.” - Owóžu Program Participant

The Owóžu Program strives to assist participants with the knowledge needed to deepen their understanding around value-added products and to be successful in creating a business to sell their products within their communities. Thank you to the incredible presenters who shared their knowledge in each module and to the participants for making this program a success. To learn more about Akiptan’s Programs and Financing visit our website at

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