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Lakota Country Times: Food sovereignty at Rosebud Reservation

These young gardeners from the Boys and Girls Club brought their homegrown produce to sell. They had a variety of hot peppers available for purchase at their table. Small bouquets of freshly picked wildflowers were offered at $1 each. Photo by Vi Waln

Fall Food Fest a Huge Success
By Vi Waln
LCT Correspondent

TURTLE CREEK – An initiative on the Rosebud Reservation promoting food sovereignty closed a successful first season by providing a meal to area residents attending a community farmer’s market.

Visitors were treated to vegetable beef soup, bread and Lakota Water last week at the Keya Wakpala Community Market. This venture provided an area to set up tables, allowing local vendors to publicly market their fresh products. Shoppers sampled locally grown fruits, such as cantaloupe and watermelon, offered for sale at reasonable prices. This event is a large part of the Food Sovereignty Initiative, a program designed in part to encouraging vegetable gardeners, businesses and artists to market their locally grown or produced goods.

“We are going to work on creating a permanent structure for local vendors to have access to an area where they can market their products,” stated Mike Pratt, Community Market Coordinator. “This winter we are going to look into obtaining machines to accept SNAP cards for the purchase of fresh fruits and vegetables. We also want to encourage other local growers to take advantage of this market.”

Carmelita Sully pauses for a photo with some of her giant watermelons from the SGU garden. She makes fish emulsion fertilizer to use in the garden. Fish emulsion is created by using fish remains to provide high nitrogen, as well as other nutrients, to garden soil in order to grow healthy produce. Photo by Vi Waln

A variety of products were offered each Friday afternoon during the months of September and October. Along with garden produce, visitors were able to buy freshly brewed gourmet coffee, fresh farm eggs, home canned vegetables, homemade fruit preserves and baked goods from local vendors.

In June, Pratt assisted with the planting of a one acre community garden to kick off the Food Sovereignty Initiative. Several local residents were involved in taking the first step on the food sovereignty path last summer by planting a variety of vegetables in the plot. The garden produce was distributed to local Turtle Creek Crossing Super Foods shoppers in August during an event aimed at educating the public about the initiative.

The vegetable and flower plants used to create the first garden were generously donated by the Sinte Gleska University (SGU) Greenhouse. Local residents planted tomatoes, onions, peppers, squash, melons, carrots and radishes. A variety of flower plants, such as marigolds and petunias, were also planted. The garden was tended to by local master gardeners and volunteers.

The Boys and Girls Club of Rosebud enjoyed a meal compliments of Turtle Creek Crossing Super Foods at the Keya Wakpala Community Market last week. Their table was manned by several members and offered fresh produce and flowers at minimal prices. Photo by Vi Waln

People who attended the market last week were given samples of watermelon and cantaloupe from the SGU garden. “This year we got 75 watermelons and 150 pumpkins from our garden,” stated Carmelita Sully, SGU Greenhouse Manager. She is responsible for tending to the plants offered for sale to the general public, as well as caring for the SGU garden. Sully makes her own fish emulsion to fertilize vegetables and fruits.

The success of the fish emulsion fertilizer was apparent in the size of the watermelons Sully had on display. The garden yielded 8 watermelons that weighed in at over 50 pounds each. There were two watermelons for sale, each weighing over 50 pounds. The melons were priced at around $20 each. One watermelon wasn’t marked and visitors were allowed to guess the weight for a chance to win a free cantaloupe. It was a huge watermelon that weighed a whopping 64 pounds. SGU students will soon be enjoying that watermelon as a food item in their on-campus lunches.

A regular vendor at the markets was Cedar Creek Gardens. A wide selection of vegetables, as well as homemade pickles, canned vegetables and canned preserves, were offered to local shoppers. Mild, medium and hot versions of homemade salsa were also available. This garden is located 20 miles north of Cedar Butte in Mellette County.

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Morning Light Coffee, a mobile vendor of gourmet coffee and breakfast food, was also a regular vendor at the event. Residents can look for Morning Light products nearly every weekday morning at the Boys and Girls Club parking lot in Mission, SD.

Members of the Boys and Girls Club also brought produce to sell. They had a variety of hot peppers for sale at their table. Small bouquets of freshly picked wildflowers were offered at $1 each.

Another food event is being tentatively planned for November 21 at the Turtle Creek Crossing Super Foods Store. A food truck is expected to be available to local residents. The truck will offer native produced food products. Information will also be provided about how food was shared through barters on historic trade routes in the area.

For more information on the Food Sovereignty Initiative, please call Mike Pratt at (605) 856-8400. You may also visit the REDCO Food Sovereignty Initiative Facebook Page.

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