[permaculture] Food forest project at Pine Ridge - need assistance

Cory Brennan cory8570 at yahoo.com
Wed Jan 25 00:25:12 EST 2012

Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota is one of the major
food deserts in the US. Some people routinely drive 2 hours to the nearest town
that has a grocery store – it costs them $50 in gas to buy groceries. Most
people are at least one hour from the nearest store with any kind of fresh
vegetables or fruits.  If they can’t
afford to buy groceries, they get “commodities” which are heavily processed
foods like macaroni and cheese, Spam, etc. A high percentage of children on the
rez have diabetes and over 60% of adults have diabetes or pre-diabetic conditions.  Heart conditions, high blood pressure, etc
are the norm. Infant mortality and life span rates are similar to 2/3 world
countries. There is almost no organic food available on or near the rez.  There are a number of organizations that are
trying to change that and we’d like to support them. 

We would like to plant several food forests at Pine Ridge
reservation in South Dakota this spring (May), and if this project speaks to you
and you are available, we could use your help, starting now, or any time
through early June, to pull this off!  We
have been facilitating permaculture projects on the reservation since 2009 with
our assistance, and have generated enough interest that a number of people are
interested in food forests as a way to grow food sustainably on the rez . There
is precedent with the traditional Lakota diet including a variety of native
fruits, nuts and herbs gathered from riparian areas and other protected areas.  

There is a strong sustainability movement happening in parts
of the rez and we would like to coordinate with that wonderful energy and put
some food systems on the rez that are geared toward the needs of the
tribe.   We have been observing and
surveying people, living on the land off and on, and getting to know it for
three years now and we feel we have observed and interacted enough to move
forward with something that will be genuinely beneficial.  We are conscious of not only historical use
of plants by the Lakota people but current ways of living, and are trying to
integrate the design into real needs, resources and a cultural context.   

We are partnering with three organizations that are working
on food security for the rez and are respected in their area.  This project will have impact not only on
this reservation but many others – as people from many different tribes visit
this reservation and will see these systems.  

This is an ambitious project (the first phase of five
forests planted in three weeks – soils prepared, water systems being put in, windbreak
trees planted, first phase of food plantings done, etc)  but we can pull it off with your help.  We have an opportunity to put in permaculture
food systems with five different organizations on Pine Ridge reservation – all will
be seen by and shared with a variety of people, in different areas of the
reservation.  We want to help create food
security for Pine Ridge and this is a good step in that direction!  We are looking for experienced
permaculturists, especially those experienced in growing food in similar climates
(though few things are quite like the Northern prairies for harshness ), in capturing
water in similar climates/soils (clay silt prairie drylands),  in organizing projects, and fund
raisers.  We can also use strong people
with any level of experience to help with the planting.

The planting will be done in May, and we will be staging on the
sites starting either April 19 or April 25, depending on a variety of factors.
We will need volunteers during this time period (about 4-6 weeks) to help with
planting, irrigation, swales, etc. Soil building has been occurring in most
cases already and people will be preparing some aspects of the site (or have
already done so) before we arrive. 

This is strictly a volunteer project – you will need to pay
your own way if you intend to come there in May and help plant. We can provide
lodging and hopefully at least some of the food but the first priority for pay,
if there is any, will be to the Lakota. You can stay for 4-5 days, or the whole project.

Last year, we dug swales and planted 600 wind break trees on
one site and we have started installation of a kitchen garden and food forest
on that site. 

What we need right now is help coordinating the planning
portion of these projects: 

a.       Lining up and coordinating arrival of volunteers
b.      Coordinating with the project heads at Pine
c.       Designing the sites (I have visited these sites,
done some analysis, and we can start on pre-design work now)
d.      Doing more thorough research on appropriate plants
for the area (I’ve done a fair amount of this, researching invasives, plants
toxic  to horses, cows, buffalo, some
native edibles and medicinals, etc)
e.      Getting donations of plants from a variety of
sources (I have a partial list of places that may donate)
f.        Raising funds for irrigation, fuel, etc. 

If you want more info, or would like to get involved, please
contact Koreen at:  cory at permacultureguild.us

We do have a bit of a “get to know you” process, so please
bear with us on that. 

We would really appreciate your support, participation,
experience, energy, for this project!

Mitakuye Oyasin

Ken Benway

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