The Peninsula Open Space Trust and the Association of Ramaytush Ohlone have announced a collaborative farming project on 38 acres of San Gregorio farmland originally conserved by POST in February 2020.

POST and the Native group will partner with the Deep Medicine Circle, Luna Vez Farm and Top Leaf Farms to farm the land, which has been named Ma Da Dil, or “Mother’s Heart” in Punjabi.

POST is a private, nonprofit land trust that works with private landowners and public agencies to protect lands through ecological and agricultural conservation. This is the first time it will be partnering with the Ramaytush Ohlone, the indigenous people of the San Francisco Peninsula.

“We’ve been working on diversity, equity and inclusion for quite some time to help us understand this long history of land conservation and the intersection with indigenous people,” said Marti Tesdesco, chief marketing officer at POST.

The collaborative proposal was chosen out of 28 requests for proposals received by POST in October. Under ARO leadership, Deep Medicine Circle will launch its “Farming Is Medicine” program at Ma Da Dil, providing free organic produce to people of color and marginalized communities in the San Francisco area. It will partner with the American Indian Cultural District, University of California, San Francisco’s, food pharmacy program and the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corp. to deliver food grown on the farm to communities that need it most. It also plans to use a sustainable model to enhance soil fertility, restore the San Gregorio Creek and reintroduce native species such as coho salmon.

“This is a reciprocal relationship with the earth,” said Dr. Rupa Marya, executive director of Deep Medicine Circle and associate professor of medicine at UCSF. “We’re not simply extracting from her, we’re giving her back the nutrients and love that she needs to finally support our lives and other beings.”

Principal cultural consultant at ARO Gregg Castro said that the Ramaytush Ohlone will focus on upholding their sacred commitment to the earth. He believes that their unique perspective will lead to more successful conservation efforts.

“We have an ancient tradition and sacred belief based on our spiritual values given to us by our ancestors, who tell us that we were put in a place to take care of that place,” Castro said. “Some of our elders say: We don’t own land, land owns us.”

POST hopes that the project at Ma Da Dil will inform future collaborations on other land. For now, its focus will remain there and on acknowledging injustices committed to indigenous peoples by white settlers and perpetuated by societal practices.

“We’re still here,” Castro said. “We didn’t go anywhere, although they thought we were extinct. We’re still trying to do the things we’ve been doing for thousands of years.”

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