Indigenous Pride in Agriculture

  |   Feature
Two women stir and mash grapes to be made into wine.

The heart of agriculture lies in the hard of work of farmers and producers, regardless of their identity. What unites all farmers is their pride in agriculture, their love for their land and their dedication to their agribusinesses.

At the Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), we encounter a diverse array of producers across the nation, as USDA works to help American farmers succeed. During the first-ever Native Nations USDA Agribusiness Trade Mission in Canada, we had the privilege of meeting Tara Gomez, a first-time trade mission participant. As a Native American, LGBTQ woman, and agriculture exporter, she represents the diversity of American agriculture.

Gomez is a member of the Santa Ynez Band of the Chumash Indians in California. Since childhood she has been interested in agriculture, particularly in the science of agriculture. While pursuing her degree in Enology at California State University, Fresno (Fresno State), she thrived in the college’s Native American community. “The Native American group there brought me in and taught me so much more about our culture,” Gomez said. "They felt like family and took care of me while I was away from home."

For Gomez, agriculture is not only a scientific pursuit but also a cultural connection. “I have a connection to the land itself. It was something I was raised on,” Gomez said. “Having that connection and balance – being in balance within myself, my surroundings, and the environment, while living in harmony. I am always searching for that connection and balance in all that I do, including winemaking – the balance of the fruit, acid, alcohol, and structure of the wine.”

This year marks Gomez’s 28th harvest and the seventh year of Camins 2 Dreams, which she co-owns with her wife, Mireia Taribó. Camins 2 Dreams is their dream job brought to life, striving to achieve export success, while entering new markets. Gomez partnered with FAS Toronto Senior Marketing Specialist Maria Arbulu to secure participation in this historic trade mission and arrange meetings with the British Columbia Liquor Board for Camins 2 Dreams.

“This trade mission has really helped to expand our market reach by connecting us with potential buyers, agents, British Columbia officials and collaborators, while tapping into the demand for Indigenous agricultural products in Canada. Otherwise, it can be super challenging to enter the marketplace,” Gomez said.

Gomez is no stranger to overcoming challenges: “I don’t want anyone to struggle like I did, especially in this industry, which is why I am so big in mentoring others who want to get into the industry,” Gomez said. “Now I have a platform where others in the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) community can see the path I paved and know that they can achieve it too.”

Pride Month is a special time for Camins 2 Dreams. Gomez and Taribó released a “Pride” red wine, donating 60 percent of the sales to two local non-profit organizations that support the LGBTQ community – Santa Ynez Valley Pride and House of Pride & Equality. “This special edition Pride red wine is one of the ways we actively support the LGBTQIA2S+ community, as we take pride in our commitment to diversity, inclusion, justice, and belonging in the wine industry.” Gomez said. “This month is all about celebrations.”

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