Native American Roots – Shoots Farmers, Gardeners, – Gatherers Market – Educational Garden

Project Overview

YENC08-002
Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2008: $2,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: North Central
State: South Dakota
Project Manager:
Jason Schoch
Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots Native Amerias Proje

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Crop Production: cover crops, crop rotation, irrigation
  • Education and Training: youth education
  • Pest Management: mulching - vegetative
  • Soil Management: composting

    Abstract:

    PROJECT DESCRIPTION
    Background: Through our existing community gardening projects on the reservation, we taught students how to identify the soil types in their communities and how to take this information to identify which watering practice would be most sustainable in their community. We also taught them the benefits of mulching and how it reduces water consumption and water loss due to evaporation.

    Goals:
    A. In School Component (formal). As written in the original proposal, we had planned on working with a local school / classroom to: plan, plant, tend, and harvest a garden using sustainable techniques and methods as well as how to develop and initiate a sustainable marketing plan and host an open air farmers’ market in Kyle during the summer of 2009. Students from the in-school group would not be required to participate in the summer aspects of the program unless they chose to.

    Due to delays in the disbursement of funds, we were not able to begin the in-school component during the school session (spring 2009). Funds for the grant weren’t made available until after it was time to plant and until school was done for the summer. Therefore, we made two decisions:

    1) To work with our own Roots & Shoots Summer Outdoor Classroom Youth to do the planning, tending, harvesting of the garden and these same youth helped market and host the Farmers’, Gardeners’, and Gatherers’ Market every Saturday in the community of Kyle.

    2) To work with a high school or middle school group at Little Wound School during the fall of 2009, to plan and develop a marketing plan for next year’s (2010) farmers market and garden.
    B. Out of School Component (informal): Our goals for the out of school component was to show the youth and community members on the Pine Ridge Reservation that it was possible for them to plan and plant a sustainable garden on the reservation that would not only feed their own families, but that would also produce enough to sell in the local market, to local people, putting money back in their pockets. In addition, we wanted to show youth and community members that it was not only possible to host a farmers market in their community, but that local people, commuting workers, and summer tourists would shop at such a market, thus creating a step towards establishing a sustainable, permanent, outdoor market economy on the Pine Ridge Reservation in southwestern South Dakota.

    Process:

    1) Informal Education and Hands-On Sustainable Agricultural Practices: We used the opportunity of our summer Roots & Shoots Outdoor classroom program and its informal education style to showcase a variety of sustainable agricultural methods:
    • Mulching: using a variety of mulches (straw, grass clippings, wood chips, gravel, etc.),
    • Drip irrigation versus sprinkler irrigation.
    • Historical “three sisters” Native American gardening techniques: that made use of mutual beneficial relationships between plants (corn, beans, and squash) and how these old techniques not only were sustainable but how they increased yields.
    • Values and benefits of crop rotation.
    • Values of planting cover crops and green composting.
    • Using Sacrificial Crops and organic pesticides versus chemical pesticides

    Traditionally education in Native American communities was not done by an institution. It was an informal, hands-on, experiential process that involved the whole community and extended family members. In addition, education traditionally provided youth with an opportunity to have a meaningful role in their community. We chose to adopt this style of education. Even for our in school component we chose to have them work on an out-of-school project that would provide them with a vital and sustainable role in their community during the summer months.

    2) Historical Native American Gardening: We also thought it was important to stress that some of these techniques were traditionally used by Native Americans in their region so that the Native American youth we were working with knew that not only were many of the crops we were planting and selling historically crops developed by Native Americans but that many of the techniques their ancestors used are techniques western agricultural science is now rediscovering.

    3) Traditional Lakota Gathering: historically, the Lakota people were not gardeners, but were hunters and gatherers. However, in post reservation times, many of today’s grandmas and grandpas did grow up gardening. However, to increase curiosity and to promote sustainable use of the land, we added gathering to our market and planted at our garden, some of the following traditionally gathered foods (raspberries, chokecherries, etc.). Historically, the Lakota people were good stewards of the land and did not overharvest what was available. This practice and the “Mitakuye Oyasin” (“All My Relatives”) philosophy was useful to us in teaching about sustainability in agriculture. We worked with elders to teach youth how to properly collect wild plants, fruits, and seeds and then applied this same attitude towards planting and harvesting a garden. In addition, we provided the community with access to these gathered foods, either in their raw form or in a more modern, value-added form (jellies, jams, etc.)

    4) Discussion groups: the informal education style and the outdoor setting also make students more comfortable discussing the topic and allows them to have more control over the pace and structure of their learning environment.

    PEOPLE
    1) Chett / Shannon County Extension Service: a wealth of hands-on, organic farming and ranching knowledge and assistance setting up and choosing the drip irrigation systems. He also advised us on organic pesticides and fertilizers we could use.
    2) The Lakota Prairie Ranch and Resort: provided us with free use of and access to their land for growing our farmers’ market educational garden and for hosting the Friday Farmers, Gardeners, and Gatherers’ Market. In addition, they also provided us with free access to their wells for water and free electricity for the market.
    3) Community Members, esp. elders, provided us with a wealth of lifetime experience working in these communities, gathering traditional food stuffs, planting gardens, dealing with pests, best times to plant, varieties to plant etc. (Little Finger, Emma Jean Conroy, Alice Young, Vinnie and Phil Puckett)
    4) The Black Hills Foster Grandparents Program: Jack Long Soldier and Lawrence Randall.

    RESULTS
    We hosted 12 Farmers Markets in 2009. We had 67 youth participate in this year’s community gardening and farmers’ market initiative. Added to this we had an another 84 youth participate in this year’s Outdoor Classroom where they learned about native plants traditionally gathered by their people and gathered native plants to sell at the market. In addition to the raw products, these youth also learned about how these raw materials could be transformed into a value-added product to sell at the market (jellies, jams, teas, etc.).

    We used the farmers’ market garden and the outdoor classroom native plants gardening, and the market itself to showcase a variety of sustainable agricultural methods, including:
    • Mulching: using a variety of mulches (straw, grass clippings, wood chips, gravel, etc.) and how these various mulch materials reduces water loss due to evaporation, reduces stress on the plants due to environmental factors and actually requires less water. In addition, mulching provides organic ground cover and reduces the amount of noxious weeds.
    • Drip irrigation versus sprinkler irrigation and how these systems also reduce water loss and usage.
    • Historical “three sisters” Native American gardening techniques: that made use of mutual beneficial relationships between plants (corn, beans, and squash) and how these old techniques not only were sustainable but how they increased yields.
    • Students learned the values and benefits of crop rotation and how these methods decrease disease and can increase nutrients in the soil. (I.e. how planting beans in a field one year and corn in the same field in the following year is a mutually beneficial sustainable method.
    • Values of planting cover crops, green composting and other soil amendments: students learned how these methods can help them properly manage soil quality; provide organic nutrients to the soil. In addition they learned that composting is a cheap, affordable, sustainable, and profitable way to fertilize your crops and improve your local soil.
    • Raised Beds: the use of raised beds allowed us to showcase to participants a no-till method of gardening, how you can garden in small spaces and how you can garden even in places where the soils less than optimal by using raised beds and bringing in soil and amendments.
    • Using Sacrificial Crops and organic pesticides versus chemical pesticides:

    Participants and community members also learned how in historical Native American communities these techniques were traditionally used in their agricultural efforts and how their traditional cultural gathering can still play a role in a sustainable agricultural effort on the reservation. In post reservation times, many of today’s grandmas and grandpas did grow up gardening. However, to increase curiosity and to promote sustainable use of the land, we added gathering to our market and planted at our garden, some of the following traditionally gathered foods (raspberries, chokecherries, etc.). Historically, the Lakota people were good stewards of the land and did not overharvest what was available. This practice and the “Mitakuye Oyasin” (“All My Relatives”) philosophy was useful to us in teaching about sustainability in agriculture. We worked with elders to teach youth how to properly collect wild plants, fruits, and seeds and then applied this same attitude towards planting and harvesting a garden. In addition, we provided the community with access to these gathered foods, either in their raw form or in a more modern, value-added form (jellies, jams, etc.)

    Through participation in our markets, youth and community member participants learned how to plan, implement, and advertise a local open air market, how to price goods for sale, how to display products, how to handle money transactions, how to make use of value-added products and how they can make a profit by using these sustainable methods of agriculture and gathering. They learned that there is a market for these goods and services locally and that they don’t need to rely solely upon outside tourists and visitors to make a profit growing their own food.

    We had 151 youth total, 40 adults and 8 elder participants in this year’s project and approx. an additional 252 community observers who either asked questions or offered suggestions in addition to visiting the markets and gardens this year.

    This year’s markets hosted a total 25 vendors and hundreds of customers at the three market locations (Lakota Prairie Ranch & Resort, Porcupine Powwow, and Lil’ Angels gas station).

    Measurements: These results were measured by taking attendance records & through the vehicle of guided discussion groups.

    DISCUSSION
    We learned that in the future more time spent on vendor recruitment and advertising/marketing would allow us to reach a greater number of communities, growers, and youth on the reservation. We also learned that additional education on gardening, gathering, and the benefits of making value-added commodities from the gardens and wild gathered goods will increase participation in such efforts on the reservation. We learned that education has to be a community effort and can not simply rely upon the schools. More adult education workshops and providing adults with more opportunities to share in these efforts will add depth and commitment to the project in the future. Lastly we think that finding more ways to recycle local materials and teaching people to take advantage of what they have around them will also make conducting such programs more cost effective.

    OUTREACH
    We used KILI Radio for public announcements, posted fliers at popular local businesses, made use of sandwich signs, and encouraged program participants, vendors, and customers to spread the word to their families and friends via word of mouth. We were trying to reach the community of Kyle and surrounding rural communities, area growers, and traditional gatherers in particular.
    Program Evaluation:

    Here on the Pine Ridge Reservation, dealing with communities in poverty and a scarcity of resources, it would be easier to get such programs and community efforts going if funds were immediately available to get the projects started and off the ground instead of having to raise the funds elsewhere and then be reimbursed. However, the award from NCR-SARE did allow us to spend such previously raised funds to get the project under way knowing that we’d be reimbursed at project’s end.

    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.