From 5 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, October 22, and Thursday, October 24, the Cheyenne River Youth Project® will be offering two exciting classes for the Cheyenne River community: Modern Gardening Basics, and Advanced Gardening / Farming. Steven Bond, a technical assistance specialist for the Intertribal Agriculture Council, will be teaching both classes; they are open free to the public.
In Modern Gardening Basics, the class will discuss several topics that have become increasingly popular, explore some of the basic science behind many applicable principles and cover the most fundamental aspects of gardening and producing food for the table. Topics include soils, compost, weed control, irrigation, raised beds, saving seeds, preservation techniques, thwarting pests, garden planning and more.
In Advanced Gardening, which essentially means farming, the class will learn about the commercial garden and vegetable farm. Topics include permaculture/food systems, commercial materials, automation, synergistic gardening, product marketing/packaging/sales, value added, local foods and bolstering rural economies, which addresses grants, employment and ecotourism.
“Although many techniques are timeless, there has been much lost and much rediscovered in the last 60 years,” Bond said. “Modern materials and practices, including the use of automation and means to extend our growing seasons, can have a significant impact on increasing our potential output. We are now a global community of buyers, sellers and growers, and this has forever changed what is possible.”
Each class can accept a maximum of 35 people, so reservations are recommended. Interested community members should call the CRYP offices at (605) 964-8200 or send an email to Ryan Devlin, the youth project’s sustainable agriculture manager, at email@example.com. Walk-ins will be accepted if space allows.
According to Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, the community gardening classes are a perfect fit for the youth project’s garden programming.
“Our vision for the 2-acre, naturally grown Winyan Toka Win garden and our sustainable agriculture initiatives goes beyond growing our own food for youth meals and snacks and processing items to sell in our gift shop,” she explained. “We want our CRYP campus to be a gathering place to learn, exchange ideas and dream big. We envision Winyan Toka Win as a living classroom for our community, where we can teach practices that foster real food sovereignty and security across our reservation.”
Ethnobotanist Steven Bond has a strong technical background and diverse experiences working with agriculture and rural development. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and environmental chemistry from Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 2003, then he went on to Oklahoma State University, where he received a Master of Science degree in the Watershed Resources Management Program in 2011. While at OSU, he also was a research assistant in the Biosystems Agriculture Engineering Deparment, working closely with the USU Agriculture Extension Program.
Throughout his college years, Bond received multiple honors and fellowships, including the Alfred P. Sloan Fellow award, the NABS Graduate Fellowship and undergraduate and graduate fellowships from the Louis Strokes Alliance for Minority Participation.
In 2005, Bond began working as the ethnobotanist for the Chickasaw Nation, where he developed the Ecological Resources and Sustainability Program that served as an “extension” approach to share technical information about traditional agriculture and environmental sustainability. Bond currently works for the Intertribal Agriculture Council as its technical assistance specialist in the Eastern Oklahoma Region and Western Region. His office is located in Stratford, Oklahoma, where he also owns and manages a small pecan orchard and organic farm.
To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call (605) 964-8200 or visit www.lakotayouth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.