We shared a pancake breakfast at Ihop in Flagstaff with Valencia Herder, who is involved in numerous grass roots organizations (though she said she's learning to say no) including North Leupp Family Farms, a sustainable agriculture project in Leupp Arizona. Valencia grew up on the Navajo reservation with sheep, cattle, horses and farming. Now she works in sustainable agriculture centered around
topics like health information (free range grass fed animals), reinvigorating farming, and plants as medicine, with her focus moving towards water, such as how to set up water catchment systems, how to restore erosion, and control erosion.
She said about 60 to 70% of her community in hard rock Arizona do not have running water and 10% do not have electricity although there's a coal mine 30 miles away. At home, Valencia, her family and fellow community members travel long distances for water. The well is 10 miles from her home and she has to haul water in 55 gallon drums over a 10 to 15 mile radius to water their crops, which are largely corn, beans and squash.
Her sisters work along side her to bring sustainable economics to their communities. One of her sisters, Nicole Herder is featured in the film Weaving Worlds, that explores weaving as it relates to Navajo identity and the way the artists are being taken advantage of by the traders who sell the rugs.
The meeting was brief and left me and the Women's Earth Alliance (WEA) group with a strong desire to see including North Leupp Family Farms and to see where Valencia grew up, to learn more. No doubt WEA will have to go back soon!