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Can Wigmunke, The Rainbow Tree is a local gardening effort on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation that works with community members to prepare and plant community gardens to increase green spaces and improve the quality of life for everyone living on the reservation. The project uses their farmer’s markets and gardens as a small business model and inspiration for reservation youth looking to create their own jobs on the reservation.
Traditionally Native American youth were taught by the entire village, often in natural settings. Can Wigmunke has chosen to adopt this traditional model of working with and teaching the youth on Pine Ridge about gardening. Their community gardens have become experiential classrooms where youth learn about sustainable methods for growing their own food. The youth even take on service projects in their communities, like planting 273 trees across the reservation and transforming vacant lots into vibrant community botanical gardens.
Greenhouses are critical in South Dakota, where the growing season is three months at best. In 2011, Running Strong was able to provide a greenhouse for the project’s base farm which allowed them to start planting