Economics of the Sugarbush: A conversation with David Manuel

Mar 9, 2021

We're looking at what they call the market garden concept when we transition into spring and we start seeding our trees and prepare for the garden season and we have a farmer's market up there.We have it for three years, maybe four. And that has been building every year, every year we've had more and more customers. We were out there last year wearing masks. Because that's how important our mission is. It’s about growing local healthy food for our tribal members. Bottom line. - David Manuel

Credit Tayn Kiyash



4 Directions Development in Red Lake works to cultivate entrepreneurship and community development by providing education, technical assistance, financing. David Manuel is the Foods Coordinator for Red Lake Foods.  He’s working with 4 Directions and several other organizations in the Red Lake area in an effort to build the Red Lake Nation’s future by training tribal members in the ways of the sugarbush and other agricultural options.  David joined the morning show to discuss the economics of the sugarbush, the history of trading sugar with other tribes and explorers, how the sugarbush enhances his life, and much more.   


...we're revitalizing our agricultural traditions. Sugarbush is one of them...

I was kind of in a tough spot one year, and I put every red cent into my Sugarbush equipment and it was a roll of the dice and I came back really flush. Five, six weeks later, I was able to catch up on all my bills, fix my truck and take my wife out to dinner. I can’t ask for any more than that…

And it has done that each and every year.  It’s not a yearlong activity. I cannot produce enough value on a product out of my sugarbush to sustain me for a year. But I can do that [catch up on bills, etc.] and then move on to the next activity. And that's what I teach. - David Manuel