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.

Kicking off the fall garden programming will be “Canning for Beginners” on Thursday, September 18. Scheduled for 6-7:30 p.m. at the Cokata Wiconi teen center, the class will teach participants how to can pickles; the class is $15 per person, and it can accommodate 10 people. Each participant will be able to take home at least one jar of canned pickles. To RSVP, please contact Ryan Devlin, CRYP’s sustainable agriculture manager, at (605) 964-8200 or

“We started offering garden-related community workshops and classes at Cokata Wiconi last year, thanks to support from the Northwest Area Foundation, and we’re thrilled to offer continuing programs,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “Canning, for example, was a common household skill just two generations ago, but it’s been lost in recent years. We believe that sharing this knowledge with our community is an important step toward enhanced food security, sovereignty and sustainability here on the Cheyenne River reservation.”

On Wednesday, September 24, CRYP will host its annual Community Harvest Festival Dinner at Cokata Wiconi. Scheduled for 5-8 p.m., the dinner is open free to all community members, and the menu will incorporate a variety of fresh, nutritious, naturally grown food items from the non-GMO, pesticide-free Winyan Toka Win garden. The inaugural Community Harvest Festival Dinner, held in October 2013, welcomed nearly 170 community members.

“We’re hoping to set a powerful example of how our community can embrace food sovereignty and security through growing, harvesting and preparing its own foods,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director, “but our harvest festival dinner is about much more than that. In the Lakota tradition, sharing a meal is a bonding experience, and we are looking forward to welcoming our families, friends and neighbors to Cokata Wiconi for a harvest-time gathering filled with delicious food and great company.”

On Thursday, September 25, CRYP will host a second “Canning for Beginners” class at Cokata Wiconi. In this class, participants will learn to prepare and can chokecherry jelly. Again, the class is $15 per person, with a maximum capacity of 10, and each participant will be able to take home at least one jar of chokecherry jelly. To RSVP, please contact Devlin at (605) 964-8200 or

Finally, on Thursday, October 16, CRYP will host a Food System Focus Group Dinner at Cokata Wiconi. Scheduled for 5-7 p.m., the program has a maximum capacity of 20 participants; to RSVP, please contact Devlin at (605) 964-8200 or More details regarding this special first-time event will be available in the weeks to come.

And of course, throughout the harvest season, CRYP will continue to operate its Leading Lady Farmers Market each Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The market is held outdoors at the youth organization’s East Lincoln Street campus; in the event of inclement weather, the market will take place inside Cokata Wiconi.

The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.