For several summers, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® has hosted a small weekly farmers market to sell fresh produce and canned goods from its 2-acre Winyan Toka Win garden. In 2013, thanks to a grant from the Northwest Area Foundation, CRYP was able to purchase additional booths and expanded the market to include community artisans and vendors. Now called the Leading Lady Farmers Market, the weekly event accommodates 10 community members as well as the youth project staff and volunteers. Starting the first week of July, the market is held each Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at CRYP’s East Lincoln Street campus. Set-up starts at 8 a.m., and the $10 booth fee will be collected after close. Vendors who earn less than $10 in sales will have their booth fees waived; youth vendors are not charged for booth space.

Visitors to the farmers market will find a variety of naturally grown, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables, homemade preserves and even hand-crafted jewelry and artwork. Proceeds will benefit the sellers, so those making purchases know that their money supports either CRYP youth programming and services, or their friends and neighbors in the community. Supporting the Leading Lady Farmers Market also means supporting Winyan Toka Win itself, which provides far more than fresh produce for purchase in the marketplace. It also furnishes daily snacks and meals at The Main youth center and Cokata Wiconi teen center, it serves as a classroom for community workshops and youth garden-based programming, and it provides foods that staff, volunteers and youth participants will process, dry and can so it can be sold year-round through the Cokata Wiconi Gift Shop.

This expanded farmers market is key element in our 25-year-old, not-for-profit youth project’s vision for sustainable, community-based agriculture and commerce. We’ve always taken a holistic approach to our children’s well-being, understanding that having access to safe, nutritious foods in a secure, sovereign environment is so important to their health going forward. We’re grateful to supporters like the Northwest Area Foundation for the funding we received to support the market, because it’s allowing us to include other producers here in our community. That’s good for everyone — it’s a way to support each other even as we celebrate having a new venue to purchase fresh, healthy foods and beautifully crafted, homemade items.

CRYP’s Winyan Toka Win garden and the Leading Lady Farmers Market are both named for Garreau’s mother, the late Iyonne Garreau. Winyan Toka Win was her Lakota name; it means “Leading Lady.” Iyonne Garreau developed the original vision for a community garden decades ago, seeking to fulfill elders’ desires for traditional foods and to reacquaint Lakota children with the earth. Native food sovereignty, security and sovereignty were very important to the elder Garreau, who always stressed the importance of fresh produce in a daily diet; the significance of traditional foods for the Lakota people; and the powerful relationships that a naturally grown garden can foster between generations as well as between the Lakota people and the earth.