Rebel Earth Farms' Value-Added, Direct Marketing Lakota Herbal Tea High-tunnel Production

Project Overview

FNC18-1124
Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2018: $7,500.00
Projected End Date: 08/28/2020
Grant Recipient: Rebel Earth Farms
Region: North Central
State: South Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Patricia Hammond
Rebel Earth Farms

Commodities

  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, ornamentals, trees

Practices

  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, aquaponics, holistic management, hydroponics, integrated crop and livestock systems, organic agriculture, permaculture

    Summary:

    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 including: Mentha arvensis, Agastache foeniculum for use as herbal teas and 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 such as bagged and loose leaf teas  bagged. The project will also set aside a percentage of seeds each growing season to create a source of seeds to be sown as 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:

    1. Identify 4 plants, traditionally wild crafted by Lakota, that have potential to become both raw crops and value-added Native American agricultural crops.
    2. Identify potential markets, local/regional, national and international for these products as well as processing facilities and/or equipment needed to produce the final product.
    3. 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 wild.
    4. Share the findings through 1 workshop, a final report as well as social media.
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.