Celebrating Earth Day and Slim Buttes Agriculture 35th Anniversary

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It’s Earth Day! A day to celebrate all the bounty that the earth provides.

It’s also the 35th anniversary of the Slim Buttes Agricultural Development program on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. The thousands of individual and community gardens that SBAG has assisted families to grow over the years has indeed helped generations to grow, literally and figuratively!

This spring is no exception. We anticipate funding 250 gardens – provide funds for tilling, machinery, seedlings, drip hoses, and more.

“Our program staff have been Involved with reservation gardeners for 35 years across Pine Ridge, consequently having the physical community, culture and communication to make a marked difference in people’s nutrition in the present year,” says Tom.

The program started several weeks ago, an already 6,000 seedlings of a dozen vegetable varieties are emerging and 2,000 more squash and pumpkin seeds will be planted later in the season.

This year, SBAG will expand distribution routes for so many seedlings.

Right now, SBAG field director Milo Yellow Hair is midway in his 10-week run of “Wojub Oyanke” (Talk of Things Growing) on KILI Radio which serves as the primary source of information on the reservation.

The bilingual program helps people understand how their gardens can provide months of healthy, nutritious food, as well as how indoor methods of growing, such as pans of wheatgrass sprouts are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins and antioxidant agents which nourish the body.

The home gardening program focuses on the three western districts of the reservation, Wakpamini, White Clay and Pine Ridge, and SBAG is hoping for the additional funding necessary to expand into other districts.

It’s not an inexpensive proposition to maintain three tractors and the trucks to haul them to the families’ homes to till their gardens, but on a reservation where fresh produce is in short supply, and costly when available, it’s a

necessity in helping to ensure the health of Pine Ridge families.

Last year, severe flooding on the reservation caused one of the tractors to become submerged and is need of a major rebuild, requiring SBAG to rent a third tractor during the tilling season this spring.

“The current shelter-in-place and no-travel ordinance of the Oglala Sioux tribe impels incentive and opportunity for people to grow food,” says Tom. “Across the past third of a century there has never been a greater need, on Pine Ridge in particular, for families to grow food.”

Today, is the culmination of our Garden Match program and you still have time to help us reach our goal by doubling your dollars and assisting budding gardeners in this time when the reservation is shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic and healthy food is even harder to obtain.

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