The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has partnered with
the Cheyenne River Youth Project with a $20,000 grant to advance
the growth and sustainability of the organization's Winyan Toka
Win ("Leading Lady") Garden and the economic development enterprises
it supports on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, which is classified
as a "food desert" community by the government. The grant initiatives
include assisting in the development of food preservation, as well
as providing the foundation for the Farmers' Market and assisting
with its small businesses, namely the CRYP gift shop and Keya (Turtle)
Each year, Winyan Toka Win a two-acre, non-GMO garden
that is planted and managed by local youth and teens produces
over 10,000 pounds of fresh produce, including several varieties
of beans, corn, squash, peppers, zucchini, carrots, beets, turnips,
potatoes, eggplant, lettuce, rhubarb, raspberries, blackberries
and strawberries, all of which are naturally grown. The garden provides
fresh produce for CRYP youth facilities and serves as a site for
educating youth and community members about Native food systems.
The grant will go toward purchasing equipment essential to the
goals and objectives of CRYP and the Winyan Toka Win Garden, including
an upright freezer, a commercial mixer, a point of sale cash register
system, a kitchen grill and furniture for the Farmers' Market and
"At first glance this project may appear as a grant for food
processing. But it is so much more," said Elsie Meeks, South Dakota
State Director of Rural Development for the USDA. "It is about teaching
teens about gardening and processing the food they grow themselves.
The teens learn important skills and work ethic and while they are
learning these skills they also are being taught lessons around
financial literacy. We are so pleased to lend support to CRYP."
To share their knowledge, CRYP also collaborates with local
and regional resources to provide workshops to community members
on topics including; Starting/Expanding Your Garden, Heirloom Seeds,
Water Conservation, Drying and Canning 101, etc. Additionally, CRYP
offers courses on entrepreneurship and financial management to youth
and community members providing them with the skills that will allow
them to transform their product (produce, craft, art, baked goods)
into a business opportunity, while gaining knowledge on budgeting
and investing their income.
"One of the most important things tribes can do for themselves
is to invest in growing and maintaining their own Native food sovereignty,"
says Julie Garreau, executive director of CRYP. "Our kids are invested
in this process from the beginning of the growing season, by weeding,
seeding, watering and caring for the Winyan Toka Win Garden so that
they see where food comes from and that this is a life skill that
they can use to feed themselves and their community. We are proud
of Winyan Toka Win and the support from the USDA and we appreciate
all of the kids who work so hard to make this garden happen every
For more information on the Winyan Toka Win Garden and its programs
please contact Ryan Devlin at email@example.com
or Tammy Eagle Hunter at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also follow us on Facebook at https://facebook.com/lakotayouth;
or at www.lakotayouth.org.
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.