The Lakota people of the Northern Great Plains once used a variety of native plants in their traditional diets. Today, these plants are disappearing from many Lakota diets and from the landscape of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Over/improper harvesting, pesticide use, invasive species, over grazing and development all threaten these native plants in the wild. This project will use a high-tunnel system to cultivate the following traditional Lakota foods (herbal teas: primarily, Mentha arvensis, Agastache foeniculum; wild strawberries and wild raspberry). In addition to increasing the yield of these crops (through season extension) in a high-tunnel, these plants will also be processed into value-added products (teas both bagged and loose leaf). The project will also set aside a percentage of seeds each growing season to create a source of seeds and plant starts for other Native American prospective and beginning farmers and to help restore these culturally important plant foods to wild areas. Less than 1% of tribal members in South Dakota are agricultural producers and they have little access to large acreages. This project creates Native American agricultural products, a market and a system of production that is culturally appropriate.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Identify 4 plants, traditionally wild gathered by Lakota, that have potential to become both a raw and a value- added Native American agricultural
- Identify potential markets, local/regional, national and international for these products as well as processing facilities and/or equipment needed to produce the final
- Evaluate the usefulness of a high-tunnel to extend the growing season of these crops and increase the yield while reducing loss due to weather, pests, and other factors that are threatening them in the
- Share the findings through 1 workshop, through a final report as well as social