“The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum,” writes author Michael Pollan in The Omnivore’s Dilemma, “and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.”
In fact, we can make the world even a little bit better — by securing a safe, sustainable food supply and by strengthening the bonds of community. The dedicated staff, volunteers and youth participants at the Cheyenne River Youth Project® in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, have embraced this idea so strongly, they are working hard to bring the reservation’s first-ever community farmers market to life. And they intend to see it thrive.
The 25-year-old, not-for-profit organization has hosted its own small, weekly farmers market for several years. But on Friday, June 5, it relaunched an expanded version of that market, thanks in part to a grant from the Northwest Area Foundation. Now called the Leading Lady Farmers Market in honor of CRYP’s 2-acre Winyan Toka Win (“Leading Lady” in Lakota) garden, the market provides a venue for the youth project to sell its own produce and canned goods. It also incorporates booth space for 10 community vendors.
Last Friday, the public visited CRYP’s East Lincoln Street campus to peruse the bountiful selection of naturally grown, pesticide-free fruits and vegetables, homemade preserves, hand-crafted jewelry and artwork. One beadwork artist, 19-year-old Meta Charger, attended CRYP’s The Main youth center and Cokata Wiconi teen center for many years; she recently graduated from high school. She was accompanied by 16-year-old Madison Gripne, a fellow CRYP participant who also wanted to support the organization’s inaugural market day.
“We’re encouraging our young people to participate in the farmers market, whether they have crafts or produce to sell or simply want to help out,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, “and we’re hoping even more local vendors turn out in the coming weeks. The market is a great way to share fresh, nutritious foods grown right here on Cheyenne River, to enjoy beautifully handmade arts and crafts, and to gather with friends and neighbors to celebrate our traditions and our community. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to earn a little extra income.”
The Leading Lady Farmers Market is held every 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; booth fees also will be waived for youth participants who wish to sell their produce, artwork or crafts.
Community members who would like to be included in the Leading Lady Farmers Market can pick up registration forms at the CRYP office in the Cokata Wiconi teen center.
“Michael Pollan has also said, ‘The garden suggests there might be a place where we can meet nature halfway,’” Garreau noted. “If that’s true, then the farmers market is yet another way to feel even more connected to this place we call home, to Mother Earth and to the sustenance she can provide. It’s a way for us to gather, share our successes and find the inspiration to do more to care for our land and the long-term health and well-being of our community.”