Our mission is to cultivate healthy, safe, and prosperous communities by strengthening food, water, and economic systems for our native communities, empowering our youth, and promoting Native cultural knowledge.
Our vision is for a future where all our relations thrive in sustainable, economically viable, and environmentally responsible Native communities.
TLE is based out of Tolani Lake, Arizona, and since its incorporation, has dedicated its efforts to strengthening Navajo and Hopi communities in the Little Colorado River (LCR) watershed. Because our board of directors initially consisted of famers, we began our work by building partnerships with local farms and farmers in the Tolani Lake and Leupp communities. After building community support, we began building partnerships with local chapters, land use planning and grazing committees, and grassroots organizations. Through these partnerships, we realized that to truly create agricultural opportunities, we had to first plan our water resources. We built a coalition of governmental and non-governmental organizations, 20 Navajo chapters, and local community members to begin planning for water resources within the Little Colorado River watershed. Through this work, we helped establish support for several communities throughout the larger LCR watershed region enabling us to focus primarily on communities in close proximity of our office including Tolani Lake, Leupp, Birdsprings, Cameron and Dilcon. Because there are limited farmers and ranchers in our region, we will open our services to all interested Navajo and Hopi producers who participate in our programs. Our team sometimes works outside our service area if the initiative meets one of our strategic priorities stated in our mission statement.
Diné Planning Paradigm
Diné Planning moves like the sun, clockwise starting from the east. It begins with Nitsahakees (Thinking), the shifts to Nahat’á (Planning), then to Iina (Implmentation), followed by Sihasin (Evaluation).
Diné Regenerative Agricultural Strategies
Eight Pillars of Success
We have learned that successful agricultural businesses need eight elements to succeed—the Eight Pillars. The first pillar: ‘People Must Want It’ is evident. There is demand from consumers for locally produced foods—produce, meat, wool and other value-added products, and we are seeing growing interest from producers to supply that demand. We are working with partners on the other pillars in various initiatives focused on tribal food policy, model farm development, and creating demonstration and incubator farm programs.
The People Must Want It
A Core Group of people are interested to learn and practice market-oriented farming and ranching
Community Leaders agree, are willing to work together, and have (or create) an entity able to coordinate project planning, development, and management
Access to Land, Water, Power, roads and other facilities needed to support project; these are often government-subsidized
All required knowledge and skills, building on Diné cultural teaching, TEK, policy, training, technical assistance, mentoring farmers, problem solving
Access to capital and credit financing for infrastructure, equipment, planning, start-up, and operations.
Services and facilities that enable producers to access consistent demand and dependable outlets for their products and services
Organization(s) capable of providing services and technologies to manage all aspects of planning, development, production and marketing
The Government understands all components needed for successful community-based farming and ranching, and it is committed, willing and able to support it.