On the vast Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the second-largest reservation in the U.S. at more than 2.8 million acres and larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined, getting to where fresh produce is available is a daunting, and costly, task for many.
And that includes the farmers market operated by our partner there, the Oyate Teca Project, centrally located near the small town of Kyle in the heart of the reservation, which sells produce it – and some of the community gardeners it assists through its Medicine Root Gardening Program – grow locally.
So, we decided that if Pine Ridge residents cannot get to the market, we will bring the market to them.
That’s why we have just acquired a bus, and now modifying with shelving and electricity, to create the first-ever Mobile market to operate in the three communities of Pine Ridge and Manderson in the southwest region and Allen to the east.
At the mobile markets, community members will have convenient access to high-quality, just-picked fresh vegetables and fruits at affordable prices, along with possibly pantry items such as pickles and relish.
For now, for those who live not far from the Medicine Root’s community garden, they have the opportunity to pick their own garden produce daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
In addition, thanks to the supporters of Running Strong for American Indian Youth®, this summer we are planning on making four distributions of at least 75 fresh produce bags to families who cannot afford to buy it at the markets, even with its modest prices.
This results in a true win-win for both the recipients and the nearly three dozen family gardeners who will be able to have a ready market for the surplus vegetables and fruits they will grow this summer and into the fall.