Growing Food Forests on the rez
Yay!! We made our target! Thank you everyone who believes in us and in this project. We're asking for continued support from the Kickstarter community as there is so much we can do with any extra funds we get - because of the short time frame, we asked for a minimal amount to pull off the essentials, but there is much opportunity here to go further.
Our full plan includes creating off grid greenhouses, expanding rainwater catchment, creating edible and otherwise functional windbreaks wherever people live, and setting up bee hives. We have already gotten a lot done with few resources - we know how to stretch a budget! With $4000 we can:
Set up and winterize multiple beehives to help a Lakota beekeeper go into the honey business (each top bar hive costs $285+ - it is cheaper to buy them than make them, time wise) - the bees will also pollinate the food forest
Expand our rainwater catchment systems
Buy more mature trees which will fruit faster
Dig a major swale and keypoint dam system for better water security
Provide trees to give away to Lakota volunteers
Plant more edible shelter windbreaks around homes
Possibly start acquiring materials to build an off grid greenhouse
This is a chance to support a project whose effects will last for seven generations....
$10 will buy one fruit tree!
On Pine Ridge reservation, many people have to drive up to two hours to get fresh, organic food. Think of what gasoline would cost to do that, and you will understand why diet related healthy issues such as diabetes are epidemic. We want to bring food growing systems to the people of Pine Ridge that are sustainable and regenerative for the community, in multiple ways. This project will bring real, lasting food security to the people of Pine Ridge.
(Permaculture is a method of designing agricultural and cultural systems so that natural and human resources are regenerated and supported, not polluted or used up so that they are not available to future generations. Permaculture design leaves systems in better condition than they were found.)
We will plant two new food forests (see definition below) on Pine Ridge
reservation this spring, and continue to expand our existing food
forest project. Additionally, we are supporting the start of a garden project/job training in a jail, have requests to plant (edible) wind breaks for community gardens on the rez, and have been asked to assist several Lakota to start gardens.
We have been supporting self-sufficiency and
permaculture initiatives on the rez since 2006, on a volunteer basis. We have taken the time to get to know the Lakota culture and the people who live on the rez and what their struggles and strengths are, observing the barriers and problems, as well as the power and resilience in people. We have spent the time to really find out what is wanted by those who live there, and what will work. We're working with people, and listening, so as to manifest their vision and desires, rather than imposing ours. We've organized two Permaculture Design Courses on the rez, supported natural building projects and connected numerous volunteers to regenerative projects. We initiated our first food forest project last year, and planted 600 trees for Oglala Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative (OLCERI) at Pine Ridge reservation. This put into motion an interest in food forestry at Pine Ridge that has been growing and expanding. We also did extensive research on native edibles, native ecosystems and non natives that can survive there but will not disturb native systems, as part of the design of the food forest, consulted with and learned from people who have been growing in the area for years, created a 1/4 acre garden, and water catchment systems. We are thorough, and we know how to make this work.
Food forests make sense on the rez because they are self-sustaining, environmentally friendly (working with nature instead of against her), they need little maintenance once established, they align with Lakota cultural tradition (hunter/gatherer), and they provide a wide range of healthy foods, some of which can be stored for the winter. They also provide protection from the harsh prairie weather by creating microclimates around human settlements. This helps cut back on energy needs in a place where temperatures range from 110 F to -50 F wind chill.
This year, we are installing food forests for two additional organizations at Pine Ridge, and expanding the forest at OLCERI. Each of these organizations are
involved in their respective communities in different sections of the rez. We will be doing an education and planting event open to the community at Thunder Valley from May 5-9. and this is what we are requesting funding help with.
Thunder Valley is an organization whose purpose is to create sustainabilty on the rez. Their offices are located near the second busiest intersection in Pine Ridge and the food forest will be right on the street in full view. They have a number of programs for youth - work and education, and various community events which will continue to give the food forest community exposure. Last year, they started a garden whose bounty was shared with the community and the yield from this forest will also be shared. We feel we will be able to reach many people with this forest, and this organization has the infrastructure and community involvement to do that.
We will be giving classes on planting and caring for food
forests, vermicomposting, composting, water catchment
techniques, propagation, and other permaculture techiniques to
participating Lakota. We would like to give out seeds,
seedlings and trees to plant at these events. The most exciting aspect of this project is that there is sufficient community involvement and interest that the concept could spread very quickly. We feel that this seed money will turn into a mighty forest network on the reservation, of sustainable food growing.
Oglala Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative or OLCERI is working with a number of organizations with on job training and other programs, and the food forest there will be incorporated into that. This year, we will wrap up the major aspects of installation of the food forest we started there last year via our original Kickstarter funding. OLCERI is also an experimental site that will allow us to continue to experiment with different types of trees and different models of forest.
Other organizations and individuals have asked us to install windbreak trees (which can make a big difference in yields at PIne Ridge) for their community gardens or personal gardens, and to help them set up their gardens for the year. We have been asked to expand our program for next year, including programs at two other reservations.
We want to provide the best example possible with these projects so that this continues to grow, and we need your help! We will be documenting this on film and will publicly share all the findings we make about food forests at Pine Ridge on-line (see our "pests" article from last year, http://www.facebook.com/OLCERI/notes, we're also writing an article on the native edibles we found last year).
We have skilled volunteers coming in to help us install water catchment, to build soils, to plant the trees and teach others how to do those things.
We are applying regenerative permaculture ("permanent culture") design to all aspects of this program, getting multiple yields from all aspects of it, incorporating invisible structures (youth participation, education, community events), and capturing and using waste streams where they are available.
As the program has expanded, last minute changes have
necessitated more funding for the Thunder Valley project as well as a few additional projects such as the windbreak trees for community gardens (which we can do very inexpensively). We lost a major contribution that we were counting on (because of unexpected financial difficulties that arose for them) to deliver a quality food forest with full water catchment, etc, to Thunder Valley, and we really want to do this right - this is why we're turning to Kickstarter at this late date. Many people will be affected and we have planned for months to give this our all, and we really want to deliver! We would like to meet all the requests and needs that are being made, so we're asking for your help.
In addition, we want to be able to provide beekeeping facilities to a beekeeper working with OLCERI so that he can create a livelihood.
Please consider giving $10, it can make a big difference to many people!
We need funding for:
More tree, shrubs, and starts (we can plant all we can get, and can give away many as well!)
Bee hives (we can help a Lakota bee expert go into
business if we buy these for them, and they will help
pollinate the forest)
Irrigation (back up system for severe drought)
Rain catchment tanks
Heavy equipment rental and fuel to dig swales, ponds, tree holes
Garden tools, wheelbarrows
Mini greenhouse and cold frames (last frost date is May 15 - sometimes it freezes in June!)
This adds up to well over $2000, but we are resourceful,
and we are getting a lot done with a little. So please,
consider donating to this worthy project, and to continue to
donate beyond the stated goal. Our goal is to continue to
support and facilitate food independence at this
reservation, and beyond.
What is a Food Forest?
A Food Forest is an intentional forest garden designed
with a great diversity of trees and other plant species. It is
a growing system, which follows a natural design to
ensure long-term production and stability. By using
companion planting arrangements, we will establish a
series of multi-layered growing guilds. These guilds have
reciprocal functions, which benefit each included plant.
While one plant provides nutrients to the soil, another
plant provides mulch from its trimmings. Every plant has a
purpose! The design makes gardening less laborious
and requires fewer external inputs, offering people a
sustainable and practical alternative to the conventional
Why plant a Food Forest?
Our hope for this project is that we can generate an
abundance of food for the community, while educating
families and youth about the alternatives to highly
processed and non-nutritious products commonly
provided through government food subsidies. We continue to
work with a number of partnerships to spread this
knowledge and to assist the planting of future forests
throughout the Rez.
What is needed?
Our $2,000 goal serves to fund the foundation of this project, but additional support will really make our forest thrive and allow us to reach out much further into the community! Please join us in support of this great project.
Because food forests are stable ecosystems in their own right, and trees live so long, they can last for generations. There are food forests in Vietnam that have fed people for 300 years, and in Morocco, there is one that is 2000 years old.
A food forest in an average yard can provide sufficient food for a family of four, including eggs, and some meat. It can even provide an excess that can be sold or traded. A food forest has a diverse selection of food, including food that can be stored, such as roots, dried fruit, etc.
It is hard to say exactly how many will benefit - food from the forests will be distributed to the communities they are in, but more importantly, people will be shown how to plant their own forests and we intend to provide plant starts and other supports to help them get started.
Though we are using irrigation systems to help the forest become established and to protect against severe drought, we are also using permaculture water catchment methods that will minimize or even eliminate the need for well water. We are building soil by using 'waste stream' organic matter such as rotted hay or manure. We are locally sourcing everything that we can. We are stacking functions - planting and teaching, seed sharing and propagating at the same time, and doing three food forests in the same time period in order to share resources. We are using this project to create future beneficial connections for foodshed security on the rez.
You can volunteer to help us organize the effort or to plant the trees if you are in the vicinity.