Oceti Sakowin Solve Fellowship

Medicine Root Garden Program, Oyate Teca Project

Supporting food sustainability and creating local entrepreneurs

Team Lead

Rose Fraser

Solution Summary

Pine Ridge Reservation is a USDA-designated “food desert.” The reservation’s only full grocery store has limited fresh produce, which is often too expensive for residents to afford. To expand access to fresh produce, Medicine Root Gardening Program teaches local families how to eat healthy and grow their own foods. Through the garden and market located at the Oyate Teca Project youth center, students are able to garden on site, learn how to prepare produce, and have immediate access to fresh vegetables and healthy foods.

The nine-month organic gardening program includes lessons on the Mittleider gardening technique, hay bale gardening, container gardening, and square foot gardening. Classes also teach garden finances, traditional food storage, soil nutrition, soil preparation, and garden plans. Each lesson is tailored to the type of garden a family wishes to have. The program also offers cooking and preservation classes and teaches families to grow produce for farmers’ markets, establishing an opportunity to generate additional seasonal income.  

Market Opportunity

  • Over 97 percent of Pine Ridge residents live below the federal poverty line. This poverty contributes to poor nutrition and a range of negative health outcomes. There is a great need for sustainable production of healthy food.
  • By accepting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits at farmers’ markets, community members will be able to purchase and provide fresh locally grown vegetables.

Highlights

  • In summer 2018, installed a hoop house and cover for fall crops

  • One-acre garden, 12x20 foot greenhouse, and 30x100 foot high tunnel

  • Expanded to two more Pine Ridge communities: Wanblee, SD and Batesland, SD

  • In 2016, received a $10,000 grant from Running Strong for American Indian Youth, a $32,000 grant from First Nations Development, and a $29,000 grant from Notah Begay Foundation

  • In 2017, received a $66,000 grant from Running Strong for American Indian Youth

Organization Goals

  • Create an enterprise of local food producers

  • Expand facility enough to process and store produce

  • Open a locally owned whole foods store

  • Apply for the Senior Farmers’ Market Program, a USDA voucher program for elders

Existing Partnerships

  • Currently working with 18 local families—108 people in total

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

  • Listed in FarmersMarket.net

Partnership Goals

  • Architectural, design, and budget support for industrial and commercial kitchen expansion

  • Funding and support to build a processing plant and outdoor wash station to clean and store vegetables

  • Expansion of Oyate Teca Project youth center

  • Installation of kitchenettes for cooking classes and demonstrations

  • Organizational mentorship

  • Grant identification and writing support

Fellow Team

Organization Type: 

Nonprofit

Headquarters: 

Kyle, SD, USA

Project Stage: 

Growth

Working in: 

Pine Ridge Reservation, SD, USA

Team Members: 

8

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