Dreaming and being thankful with Hope Flanagan

photos of Hope Flanagan and students

I was so inspired by Hope Flanagan’s words and wisdom when I first met her in spring 2021. Her enthusiasm for the natural world is contagious. Add to that her passion for gardening, cooking, and storytelling and it is almost impossible to imagine a dreary day with Hope around. Our Awards team wanted to catch up with all the 2021 winners, so Hope and I shared a lovely conversation over Zoom. Spoiler alert: I did not know there are Dream of Wild Health cookbooks. I love to cook and bake!

You were recently interviewed for a podcast, Sustainability in Indian Country, on Minnesota Public Radio’s News IN FOCUS. What most excited you about the lessons and insight you had the opportunity to share with others?

I love reminding people that deep connections within the web of life are essential. Thanking the spirits is essential for what we have.

What is a typical fall and winter at Dream of Wild Health? Are activities moved indoors? Do you teach about winter season sustainability? Prepare for the spring and summer seasons?

Today is a typical fall day. We are seeking people to glean all the remaining edibles from the farm. We believe it is important to make sure nothing is wasted. I have been spending some time looking for what Mother Earth has to offer in this season. I gathered Sheep sorrel, Sumac, and Cleavers for boiling as tea or eating. We are just starting to offer some lines of teas and dried foods in our store.

There was a youth gathering last weekend which was lots of fun and included work on a new cookbook. Our older cookbook is available online.

We also prepare for spring and summer during winter. I look forward to the change in seasons because I can share old legends when the snow falls.

The Farm is growing in size. We added 20 acres in 2020. We are clearing buckthorn, planning to serve community needs, and we are encouraging new farmers to learn how to grow. We are restoring soils to support crops new farmers want to grow. Regeneration of the land is so important. Healthy soils—the insects, microbes, water—we are thankful for them all.

Have you learned something unexpected in the past year? If so, what?

I learned how important it is to stay in the moment. Be thankful for what you have because life can change so quickly. I also gained awareness that our traditional names for months no longer align. Maple sugar, ricing, strawberry picking months—they can be different by two months now. This is a reminder of the importance of mindfulness and to prepare thanks even in unexpected circumstances.

Your name “Hope”…we heard so many positive comments from your presentation at the 2020 Awards event…many felt you embody your name. Is that feedback you often hear?

Yes, I hear that, and I have hope in many ways, especially in the Native way of being. I have hope because life is not linear. We still need to be mindful and care for the Earth and all beings while we walk the Earth in a way that seems linear. In my culture names are descriptive and my Native name was given to me by an elder and reflects being a teacher about plants.

How can people support your work and the work of Dream of Wild Health?

Thanking Mother Earth for the bounty given and lessons we are offered is one way to support us. Gratitude for what we have is important. Other ways to support us are:

What else would you like to share with me?

We are being given an opportunity to change and stand up for the web of life. We all have gifts and we have a reason to be here. We may not know the reason but we have one. There is also more than one way of knowing. Learn in the way that is best for you to care about life. Garden, join a bee squad, take a step to be the change. And, pay attention to your elders – the plants and animals. What is happening to them is a sign for what will happen to us.

The wisdom and positivity Hope shares each time we meet is contagious. I look forward to the next time.

Nominations for the 2022 Environmental Initiative Awards will open on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. The Environmental Initiative Awards recognizes those working in partnership at the nexus of a healthy environment, a prosperous economy, and an equitable society.