Over the past few days, lots and lots of pumpkins were distributed to children on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation for Halloween. It’s all thanks to Oyate Teca Project Director Rose Fraser’s 11-year-old granddaughter, Jazlyn. She asked her grandmother if they could grow pumpkins. Rose told her she could grow whatever she wanted and gave her a 40×60 plot (the size given to the other community gardeners) to grow pumpkins.

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Jazlyn got the seeds, made the soil blocks, planted and weeded her garden…then Pine Ridge was hit by a terrible hail storm that destroyed many people’s gardens. Jazlyn thought her garden was destroyed as well. Then her grandpa Charlie, who lives next door to the garden, called her one day and told her to come out and look at her garden because pumpkins were growing all over! Jazlyn grew a total of 193 pumpkins and harvested them with the help of her family.

“I really didn’t think the pumpkins were going to grow,” she said. “It is hard work weeding, but when we picked them I was excited because I grew pumpkins.”

Jazlyn sold several of her pumpkins at the Medicine Root Farmers Market and Oyate Teca’s pizza truck. Running Strong also purchased many of her pumpkins to distribute to children on Pine Ridge for Halloween. Jazlyn made a total of $934 on her pumpkins. Next year, she wants to grow watermelons.

“As her grandma and employee of Running Strong, I am very proud of her,” Rose said. “She talked about how much it costs to grow and plant everything. Her soil was $14, seeds, trays and tilling were donated from the gardening program so she made a pretty good profit. I hope she continues with next year’s planting, maybe she can do both, watermelons and pumpkins.”

Congratulations Jazlyn from all of us at Running Strong! You did an amazing job!

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