Yakama Nation announces deal to buy Inaba Produce Farms

Staff Writer | December 11, 2021 1:00 AM

YAKAMA NATION — The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation have reached an agreement to buy the 1,500-acre Inaba Produce Farms, which is wholly located within the Yakima Reservation.

According to a Yakama Nation press release issued in early November, the tribe reached a deal with the Inaba family to purchase the farm as part of an effort to promote healthy eating among members of the Yakama Nation and to provide the Yakama Nation with economic opportunities and encourage “food sovereignty.”

The farm, which grows vegetables varying from asparagus to zucchini to onions and tomatillos, was founded by Japanese immigrants Shukichi and Tomoji Inaba on 120 acres of land leased from the Yakama Nation is 1907, clearing sagebrush and creating an irrigation system in the process, the press release said.

“When the Inaba family began farming here on the Yakama Reservation in the early 1900s, Yakama tribal members supported their efforts, leasing land to them when the laws of the United States did not permit Japanese immigrants to be landowners,” said Virgil Lewis, Sr., the Yakama Tribal Council vice president, in the press release.

“Today, the Inaba family honors our historic relationship by selling Inaba Produce Farms to the Yakama Nation to support our sovereignty and food security,” added Lewis.

The farms will be owned and operated by Yakama Nation Farms, an agricultural enterprise owned by the Yakama. The Yakama General Council adopted an agricultural plan for the nation is 2019, according to the press release.

“The acquisition of Inaba Produce Farms will jump-start the Yakama Nation’s implementation of our agriculture plan,” said Phil Rigdon, superintendent of natural resources for the Yakama Nation and a member of the Yakama Nation Farm board of directors, in the press release. “We hope to expand the farm’s current fresh food box program to offer specialty food boxes to organizations and the greater community at a margin that will will help to support and grow existing hunger-reduction food box programs.”

“It’s always been important to us to support our neighbors, our workers, and our community,” said Lon Inaba, grandson of farm co-founder Shukichi Inaba, in the press release. “Today, we honor the elders of both the Inaba family and the Yakama Nation, and look forward to building on their knowledge and experience for the benefit of generations to come.”

According to the press release, Lon and his brother Wayne Inaba will continue to run the farm as managers for the Yakama Nation Farm.

Other details of the agreement, including the purchase price, were not made public.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.