In the four weeks since the Cheyenne River Youth Project® kicked off its new “Veggie of the Week” initiative, the program is proving to be a great success — and it’s shining a powerful light on the 25-year-old, not-for-profit youth organization’s sustainable agriculture initiatives, including the Leading Lady Farmers Market, the Keya Gift Shop, the Keya Cafe and Coffee Shop, and the 2-acre, non-GMO, pesticide-free Winyan Toka Win garden.
Each week since August 4, CRYP has chosen an in-season vegetable as its Veggie of the Week. That vegetable is incorporated into meals, snacks, and educational activities at the Cokata Wiconi teen center and The Main youth center; it’s incorporated into menu items at the Keya Cafe; it’s processed for use in goods to be sold through the Keya Gift Shop; and it’s highlighted at the weekly farmers market. There, each Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., community members and visitors can pick up plenty of the fresh featured produce at bargain prices and take home a special recipe of the week.
The first week, CRYP chose zucchini. According to Ryan Devlin, CRYP’s sustainable agriculture manager, more than 100 pounds of zucchini was harvested from the Winyan Toka Win garden, and more than 40 of those pounds were sold to the Cheyenne River community through the farmers market.
Staff and volunteers used more than 60 pounds at CRYP’s East Lincoln Street campus. Some of the vegetables were incorporated into meals for the children and teens, while others were processed for later use at the Keya Cafe and in various youth programs. During the week, youth participants got to enjoy a homemade goulash with zucchini, and they savored nutritious zucchini parmesan crisps.
Next came beets. “More than 80 pounds of beets were harvested by our teen garden interns and The Main’s youth participants in the course of just one week,” Devlin reported. “We sold three bunches at the farmers market, used 60 pounds for canning, and incorporated four pounds into meals for our children and teens. And our featured recipe was roasted beets and carrots.
Carrots came after that, and they were definitely ready for a turn. Garden interns and youth participants were able to harvest more than 50 pounds of them.
“We sold three bunches of carrots at the farmers market, we used 35 pounds to make carrot cake for our Keya Cafe, we used 4 pounds to make roasted beets and carrots for our teens and children at Cokata Wiconi and The Main, and our youth participants pulled 7 pounds for good, fresh eating,” Devlin said. He also noted that CRYP’s recipes of the week were carrot cake and roasted carrots.
Last week’s veggie: onions. According to Devlin, interns and staff harvested more than 500 pounds of them, with the majority of the harvest used in processing. The processed onions will be stored for later use in the Keya Cafe and in youth programming. “In addition, we sold more than $20 worth of onions at the Leading Lady Farmers Market on August 29,” Devlin said. “The recipe of the week featured delicious fajitas made by the garden interns; they included fresh peppers, onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos from the Winyan Toka Win garden.” Eggplant will be next week’s featured veggie, and it will be the star of the September 5 farmers market. To follow along with the Veggie of the Week program, look for regular posts — and featured recipes — here on the website.
“We’re thrilled to see our Veggie of the Week program take off like this, and we hope to see it continue in the many growing seasons to come,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We thought this new program would be a great way for our community to come together to learn more about different seasonal vegetables and how to prepare them, as well as about benefits of growing nutritious foods right here on Cheyenne River, in terms of wellness and small-scale, sustainable entrepreneurship.”
To support CRYP’s sustainable agriculture initiatives like the Winyan Toka Win Garden, the Leading Lady Farmers Market, the Keya Cafe and Coffee Shop, and the Keya Gift Shop, click “Donate Now” in the navigation bar above. If you’re interested in making an in-kind donation, you may call the office at (605) 964-8200 to discuss the organization’s most pressing needs.
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.