Ryan Devlin
Cheyenne River Youth Project member shows off his potted plant.

Cheyenne River Youth Project Promotes Health, Sovereignty With Organic Gardening Programs

Suzette Brewer
3/8/14

As the winter begins to wind down, gardening season is just around the corner, and the Cheyenne River Youth Project (CRYP) is gearing up for its Get Out and Garden! Program designed to promote food sovereignty, agricultural development and community health through organic gardening. The free classes begin Thursday, March 13, and will include practical life skills-based training from seed to harvest and beyond.

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The classes are open to all community members in helping to build a sustainable food system on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation. This year's programs include:

Thursday, March 13 (5:30-7 p.m.): Gardening Basics—An introduction to garden preparation concepts for beginning gardeners. Michelle and Rick Grosek of Bear Butte Gardens outside of Sturgis will be visiting to lead the discussion. They have many years of Prairie gardening experience to share with everyone. While the class will be aimed at beginners, Michelle and Rick are an excellent resource for any gardener seeking to learn more.

Thursday, March 27 (5:30-7 p.m.): Backyard Poultry Keeping—If you are a fresh egg enthusiast this is the class for you! Topics to be covered include chicken coop construction, bird varieties, and chicken health. There will be baby chicks, as well. This is one not to miss!

Thursday, April 10 (5:30-7 p.m.): Building and Designing your Garden—This class will focus specifically on preparing and designing a garden plot that fits the needs of your family and the conditions of your growing site. Participants will learn about several different styles of garden design. At the conclusion of the class participants will have drafted their own garden design and a plan for implementing it!

Thursday, April 24 (5:30-7 p.m.): Garden and Craft Entrepreneurship—Ever thought about selling the extra vegetables in your garden or the crafts you put together at home? Join us for an introductory presentation on food and craft entrepreneurship led by Four Bands Community Fund. This is a must attend for all those interested in having a booth at the CRYP Farmer’s Market during the 2014 season.

Thursday, May 8 (5:30-7 p.m.): Garden Irrigation and Organic Fertilization—Gardening on the water weary prairie is not always an easy task! This program will focus on cost and time efficient ways to irrigate your garden crops during the dry summer months. Organic and DIY methods of garden fertilization will also be covered.

CRYP youth members learn about organic gardening. (Ryan Devlin)

The focus of CRYP's gardening programs is the award-winning Winyan Toka Win (which means “Leading Lady” in Lakota) Organic garden, which is planted and managed throughout the growing season by community children and teen youth through the Gardening Club, classes and internships.

The two-acre plot not only provides organic fruits and vegetables to the local community, but also jobs and a host of other life skills that include cooking, canning and marketing vegetables and food items at the CRYP Farmers' Market.
CRYP's gardening program is made possible by many individuals and community members and through the support of our partners, including the Northwest Area Foundation, National Relief Charities, the J.R. Albert Foundation, the Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation (DARE), the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Notah Begay III Foundation.

To make a cash or in-kind donation to support our Get Out and Garden! Program, please visit CRYP's website at www.lakotayouth.org and click on the Donate Now button.

For more information on the classes, contact Ryan Devlin at sustainableag.cryp@gmail.com, or follow CRYP on Facebook at www.facebook.com/lakotayouth for updates and details.

Founded in 1988, the Cheyenne River Youth Project is dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities, ensuring strong, self-sufficient families and communities. Today, CRYP provides a wide variety of programs and services to the community, covering nearly 3 million acres in South Dakota.

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CRYP incorporates traditional Lakota values with organic gardening. (Ryan Devlin)

 

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