MPR News: A fall tradition: Bringing in the wild rice harvest

September typically heralds the peak of manoomin (or wild rice) harvest season. Manoomin is known as the “good berry” as well as the “food that grows on the water” and is of utmost cultural importance to Anishinaabe and other indigenous peoples of the Great Lakes region. It is also considered an incredible super food for it’s dense nutritional value. The process of harvesting and processing manoomin is quite intensive, and the knowledge for these skills has been passed down through generations. If you are lucky enough to live in a place where manoomin is being harvested, be sure to check out a demonstration or just go hang out at a rice landing and chat with the people who are continuing to carry on this tradition.

Excerpt from article:

It all starts with building a wood fire early in the morning to create the bed of glowing coals needed to parch rice through the day.

John Hayes and John Beltman are tending the fire. They’ve brought several large sacks of recently harvested wild rice to be processed in a tin roofed shed in Ball Club, about midway between Cass Lake and Grand Rapids.

They’ve been harvesting wild rice in the area for about 30 years.

“We try to end up with at least 300 pounds off the water,” said Hayes, who works as an attorney in Cohasset. “On a good day, in a peak year, it’s 300 pounds of green rice in a day, but you don’t get that every year,” adds Beltman, who lives in Suomi and works at the Forest History Center in Grand Rapids.

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