Rosebud Producers Develop WIC Markets
The location of this project is the Rosebud Lakota Reservation in south central South Dakota. Residents of the reservation HUD housing clusters are the audience. Difficult history finds the residents dispirited by dependence, poverty, alcohol, and diabetes. Isolated on the prairie, each housing cluster is some fifteen miles from the others. Of the 21 clusters, two have small grocery stores. It is 40 to 50 miles to the nearest large store, which is in Valentine, Nebraska, but there is no public transportation and no money for gas to run existing cars.
The producers involved in this project are housing cluster residents who are beginning to care for family food gardens and re-establish native fruit bearing thickets. In the summer of 1999, in five communities, these new gardeners established small neighborhood markets where WIC coupons could be redeemed for fresh garden and native fruits and vegetables. The summer of 2000 will see markets in two additional communities, many more gardeners and WIC participants, and the opening of markets to non-WIC buyers.
1) To strengthen the self-confidence of the adults and youth of the housing clusters;
2) To convince reservation residents that gardens and thickets are sources of wholesome food and that gardening and gathering are respected activities that a person can do by his/herself in and near the community; and
3) To increase the number of gardeners and develop community farmers’ markets to provide incentive to local producers and easy access to wholesome food, and to serve as generators of income and business models for other possible micro-enterprises.
The general plan for implementing this project is to incorporate the project into the ongoing Permaculture program, each resident neighborhood leader building upon the gardening and strengthening of community already in progress, little by little involving adults, youth, and elders. The Permaculture and WIC staffs constantly provide personal encouragement and support, and they themselves stay current with related research findings and case studies of environmentally sound food production and philosophies for education of the oppressed rural poor. They network with inner-city community garden/market projects throughout the nation.
First Tier dissemination of results will be accomplished in a different manner that that of formal research. The project itself is education and outreach in process and includes actual implementation. Findings are experienced by participants and are seen firsthand by the remaining “target audience.” Opportunity to participate makes these findings immediately and readily usable to all of our intended clientele. Additionally, WIC and Permaculture staff provide reports to funders, presentations to regional and national meetings and conferences, and are in continuous communication with friends, family, and colleagues on nearby Plains reservations.