Oyate Teca Project
Medicine Root Gardening for food sustainability and creating local entrepreneurs
Pine Ridge Reservation is a USDA-Designated "food dessert", funding continues to be a challenge and with the change in administration government funding opportunities are likely to be cut back severely putting the people we serve at even greater risk. Our reservation's only full grocery store has limited fresh produce and is often to expensive for many of the reservations residents. Limited food choices can led to high rates of obesity and diabetes for our Lakota people. Over 97% of residents live at less than US federal poverty levels with unemployment at nearly 80% and most annual income is under $5000. Poverty leads to poor nutrition, which has been linked to a range limited of negative health outcomes. Our program educates families and their children not only how to eat healthy but how to grow healthy foods. We offer a nine month organic gardening class which includes 16 week classroom lessons utilizing the Mittleider gardening technique, hay bale gardening, container gardening and square foot gardening. Each lessons is tailored to the type of garden the family wishes to have. Soil nutrition and preparation, garden plans-what to plant, how much to plant, planting for family consumption only, farmers market or both. When to start planting from seedlings to transplants in the garden. We offer cooking classes for vegetables unknown to our people, and provide preservation classes for value added items. We teach how to grow for famer market, creating seasonal entrepreneurship's for families to generate additional seasonal income. We believe education is key to eliminating food insecurity and advancing food sovereignty. The purpose is to (1) increase the availability of fresh, healthy, locally grown produce, grown by the people of Pine Ridge and (2) create seasonal based income for families.
Where our project is located:Kyle, SD, USA
The topic our project addresses:
What makes our project innovative:
The Medicine Root Garden program is in it's 6th year with what started as a small 40x60 hobby garden for the youth to participate has expanded to a acre garden,12x20 greenhouse, a 30x100 high tunnel. We are listed in the SD farmers directory accept SNAP benefits at the farmers market, the first for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
How we use technology in our project:
Since 2015 we were able to expand our services to two more communities on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, Wanblee, SD located 43 miles East, Batesland, SD 35 miles south. Collaborating with local grass root programs and community events we are able to set up a mobile farmers market, offering our fresh, locally grown vegetables to other areas of our reservation.
Our project goals over the next 12 months:
By May 31,2018 we will complete 16 week indoor gardening classes.
By June 2, 2018 we will open our Farmers Market, and once again accept SNAP benefits
July 31, 2018 all students will complete the 7 week outdoor, hands-on gardening classes.
By September 30, 2018 all students will have completed cooking classes and preservation classes.
By October 15, 2018 we will recruit a new group to start the gardening program
January 2019 will begin the new cycle of Gardening Classes.
Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our project to affect the lives of more people:
Three-Five year goal is to successfully create an enterprise of local producers who will continue to grow vegetables for our schools, stores, cafes and personal consumption. Having a facility large enough to process and store our produce. Opening a locally owned Whole Foods Store, the first for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.
Highlights from our project:
2016 Received $10,000 grant from Running Strong for American Indian Youth, funds were used to purchase new fencing, irrigation, farm equipment, and pay for part time work.
2016 Received $32,000 grant from First Nations Development to pay for one full time garden instructor/gardener, supplies for classes, farmers market
2016 received a $29,000 grant from Notah Begay Foundation pay for one full time gardener, classroom supplies, and farmers market.
2017 received $66,327.00 grant from Running Strong for American Indian Youth to continue program.
Our promotional video:
The cities where we operate or plan to operate in the next 12 months. First city:Kyle, SD, USA
Second city:Wanblee, SD, USA
Third city:Batesland, SD, USA
Fourth city:Pine Ridge, SD, USA
How our project will be accessible and affordable to our community:
We will continue to have our farmers market set up on a weekly basis in Kyle, and continue with the traveling farmers market, making our fresh locally grown produce available for the communities. By accepting SNAP benefits at the farmers market our community members will now be able to provide fresh locally grown vegetables for their families. For next year our goal is to apply for the Farmers Market Senior program, it is a USDA voucher program for elders allowing them to purchase at the farmers market.
How many people we are currently serving with our project:
Currently we are working with 18 families our largest to date, within the 18 families there is a total of 108 people who will benefit from the program. The program it's self is a 16 week indoor education course, at the end of the 16 week training sessions each family will receive a set of their own gardening tools, Families receive incentive for completing each section of the program
How many people we will be serving with our project in the 12 months and the next 3 years:
As stated above we have a total of 18 families which equals 108 people in the garden program. We will provide educational gardening classes and offer incentives for completing each section of the program. We hope that our numbers and areas continue to grow and we are able to build a processing plant to clean and store the vegetables.
How our project team is organized:Non-Profit
How many people work on our project team:8
How many years we have been working on our project:3-4 years
Our revenue model:
We believe education is key for the success of this program, educating families in growing their own food will instill sustainability and creating entrepreneurs will increase our economy
Why we are applying to Solve:
We believe we match the criteria for Solve. and believe that teaching families to grow their own food will encourage healthier eating, decrease health problems and increase the local economy
The key barriers for our project:
Transportation: because of the rural areas and distance between communities we find it can be difficult to purchase fresh vegetables.
By funding our program you will be helping our communities to have access to fresh locally grown produce.
The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Fellows:
Rose Fraser Director, Oyate Teca Project