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Sustainable Agriculture

July Hall of Fame: Lisa Littleton

When the Cheyenne River Youth Project first launched its innovative teen internship programs in 2014, its primary goal was to give Cheyenne River’s young people new opportunities to learn job and life skills that would serve them well into adulthood. That goal is now being realized, as some of their more experienced interns are entering the workforce with talent, ability and enthusiasm.

Lisa Littleton, 18, started attending CRYP’s programs in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, when she was a young child. Three years ago, she decided to tackle the first-ever Sustainable Agriculture internship. She served as a intern for three years, becoming intimately familiar with the youth project’s 2-acre Winyan Toka Win (Leading Lady) garden.

Then she heard CRYP needed a staff gardener for summer 2016. Lisa says it was an easy decision to apply for the job.

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    CRYP Hosts Garden Blessing, Launches 2016 Growing Season in Winyan Toka Win Garden

CRYP Hosts Garden Blessing, Launches 2016 Growing Season in Winyan Toka Win Garden

On Friday, May 6, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® formally blessed the 2-acre, naturally grown Winyan Toka Win (Leading Lady) garden for the 2016 growing season. Richard Charging Eagle conducted the garden blessing, and 12 young people joined staff members in planting corn for the season.

Next on deck: planting potatoes; getting the starter squash in and covering them with squash guards; and, once the garden’s landscape plan is complete, planting fruit trees and kiwi bushes along the fence at the end of Winyan Toka Win’s north-facing rows. There, they’ll receive plenty of sun and eventually will serve as a windbreak. A watering system will give each tree and bush a root well and drip line.

Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, said staff and youth alike are eager to plant the fruit trees and bushes, which will be espaliered.

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November Hall of Fame: Nathanial Fast Wolf

Nathanial Fast Wolf, 14, is a member of CRYP’s second cohort of Waniyetu Wowapi (“Winter Count”) Art Interns. He also served as a Sustainable Agriculture Intern in 2014, spending the summer in the Winyan Toka Win (“Leading Lady”) organic garden, and he’s a regular participant in the Cokata Wiconi (“Center of Life”) Book Club.

Nathanial says Book Club has been, by far, his favorite activity at CRYP. He’s completed two sessions to date, reading a total of eight novels, earning a new Kindle, and hiking Hinhan Kaga (Harney Peak) in March 2015 as part of a special session focused on Native American literature.

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    CRYP Receives $25K Grant from First Nations Development Institute

CRYP Receives $25K Grant from First Nations Development Institute

The Cheyenne River Youth Project® has received a $25,000 Native Agriculture & Food Systems Grant from the Longmont, Colorado-based First Nations Development Institute. These funds will allow the nearly 27-year-old, not-for-profit youth organization to continue developing its Winyan Toka Win (“Leading Lady”) micro farm operation.

CRYP is one of nine tribes and Native American organizations to receive grants through the First Nations Development Institute’s Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative for the 2015-16 funding cycle. NAFSI is designed to help tribes and native communities build sustainable food systems such as community gardens and kitchens, traditional farms and ranches, and other agriculture- and food-related projects that will help eliminate food insecurity and enhance economic development in rural and reservation-based communities.

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Winyan Toka Win Garden Evolves Into Micro Farm

When the Cheyenne River Youth Project® first began its organic garden in 1999, staff members at the 26-year-old, not-for-profit youth organization scarcely could have imagined where that little garden would take them. Now, 16 years later, the thriving 2-acre Winyan Toka Win (“Leading Lady”) garden is the beating heart of the youth project — and it’s quickly becoming a veritable micro farm.

Today, sustainable agriculture at CRYP supports nutritious meals and snacks at the Main youth center for 4- to 12-year-olds and at the Cokata Wiconi teen center. It provides fresh ingredients for the farm-to-table Keya (“Turtle”) Cafe, and merchandise for the Keya Gift Shop and seasonal Leading Lady Farmers Market. To continue pursuing its long-term vision for the initiative, CRYP has invested in a new irrigation system, a garden redesign, and a composting system.

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    Sustainable Agriculture Programs Fuel the Keya Cafe, Keya Gift Shop, and Teen Internships

Sustainable Agriculture Programs Fuel the Keya Cafe, Keya Gift Shop, and Teen Internships

For nearly 15 years, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® has tended a 2-acre, naturally grown garden at its campus in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. What started as a labor of love for Executive Director Julie Garreau has turned into so much more; today, the Winyan Toka Win garden (“Leading Lady” in Lakota) lies at the beating heart of the 25-year-old youth organization’s robust sustainable agriculture initiatives.

Not only is fresh produce from the non-GMO, pesticide-free garden incorporated into youth meals and snacks, youth programming, and community events such as canning classes and the weekly Leading Lady Farmers Market, it furnishes nutritious, homegrown foods for CRYP’s Keya Café and Keya Gift Shop. And, it provides the foundation for a new internship program that welcomed 33 teens to the youth project staff during the summer months.

Garreau said CRYP’s sustainable agriculture initiatives are designed to serve as classrooms for young people. They’re also intended to make the Cokata Wiconi teen center a true community gathering place for the Cheyenne River community, as it always was meant to be.

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    2nd Annual Community Harvest Festival Dinner Scheduled for Sept. 24

2nd Annual Community Harvest Festival Dinner Scheduled for Sept. 24

The Cheyenne River Youth Project® is preparing to host its 2nd annual Community Harvest Festival Dinner on Wednesday, September 24 at the Cokata Wiconi teen center in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. A community-wide celebration of a bountiful season in the 2-acre Winyan Toka Win garden, the Harvest Festival meal is scheduled for 5 to 8 p.m. and is open free to the public.

The evening’s festivities will include a large-scale community feed, games, and a free raffle for all guests. The highlight, of course, will be the menu.

“The Harvest Festival Dinner will feature plenty of items from our naturally grown, non-GMO, pesticide-free garden,” said Ryan Devlin, CRYP’s sustainable agriculture manager. “The menu will include soups, salads, roasts, pies and much more.”

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CRYP Announces Fall Garden Programming

This fall, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® will celebrate its bountiful 2014 growing season in the 2-acre Winyan Toka Win garden with a series of special fall programs. All will be open to community members of all ages.

On the roster: canning classes, CRYP’s annual Community Harvest Festival Dinner, and a special focus-group dinner that will address food systems.

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Keya Cafe Will Begin Serving Lunch in May

For the last two months, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® has welcomed the public to its Keya Cafe in the Cokata Wiconi teen center for hot breakfast, homemade baked goods and specialty coffees. Now, the 25-year-old, not-for-profit youth organization is preparing to take the cafe, whose name means “turtle” in the Lakota language, to the next level: Next month, it will begin serving lunch, as well.

According to Jerri LaPlante, Keya Cafe manager, lunch service will begin during the second week of May. “We’re planning to start with soups, sandwiches and salads, plus daily lunch specials such as roast beef and lasagna,” she said. “Once the school year ends, and we have interns on board, we’ll expand the lunch menu for the summer months.”

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“Get Out and Garden” Classes Begin at CRYP

The beginning of spring on Cheyenne River also marked the start of the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s 2014 “Get Out and Garden” series of classes. Part of CRYP’s effort to promote healthy lifestyles and food security on Cheyenne River, the “Get Out and Garden” classes will focus on teaching introductory gardening and food/craft entrepreneurship skills to the community.

The class series began on March 13 with a gardening basics class led by Sturgis-based Bear Butte Gardens. The farmers from Bear Butte taught community members about starting seeds, planting dates, variety selection and much more. The spring edition of the series will feature four more classes with additional guest speakers from the South Dakota area.

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