A timely article about some of the strategies being used to reclaim farmland from the jaws of development, and to get and keep regenerative farms in production. Some good ideas that financial and community governance and land tenure permaculture could add to and enhance…
Last year’s tree planting and gardening at Pine Ridge has led to expanded plans for this year! Our plans include three food forests at Pine Ridge this year, with three different organizations on the rez. We will also help install gardens and give classes on the techniques we’ll be using. We’ll be there from late April to mid-May, . Planting will occur Apr 29, May 1-4 and May 5-9.
We still need volunteers! We have a Kickstarter campaign at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/892430421/pine-ridge-reservation-food-forest-2012-0
Pine Ridge reservation is a “food desert” in the extreme sense of the word. There are almost no organic foods being sold on the reservation. People often have to drive two hours or 100 miles to get organic or fresh vegetables or fruits. Diabetes, heart disease and other diet-related diseases are at epidemic proportions on the rez. The infant mortality and early death rates are some of the worst in the world. Food security is a major issue. The land is harsh – with severe, drying winds, hail in July, and freezes in June and August sometimes. Insect pests are ubiquitous. It can be challenging to grow things on this land.
Food forests are a way of working with nature to create stable ecosystems that grow lots of food. We mimic how a natural ecosystem of trees would behave in this zone. Because this is open prairie land and the main trees are pine forests, we will be experimenting to some degree to create a good microclimate for fruit trees. There are a number of successful orchards around that we are learning from.
Forests create milder temperatures (cooler in summer, warmer in winter), windbreaks, water capture, erosion control, and many other benefits. One can have a small food forest in the backyard, or a larger one on a few acres. Agroforestry is another version of using trees to produce food. There are many advantages to all of these approaches and they can be integrated in the existing ecosystem in ways that enhance the ecosystem.
The Lakota are known for buffalo hunting, but they also traditionally appreciated the wild plant food that grows in the region. We’ll be including native edibles traditionally used by Lakota in our food forest, as well as other fruits and nuts that are of interest.
Food forests provide a food system that mimics the ‘hunter-gatherer’ tradition of the Lakota. We are creating demonstration/experimental forest gardens this year and will continue to document progress, make it publicly available, enhance the forests, and help plant new ones in years to come. This is not a one shot deal!
We need donations of trees, seeds and plants, irrigation piping and equipment, rain catchment containers, and funding for travel and food expenses for experts who will install and educate while there. We also need volunteers to help with planting, and are looking for skilled volunteers to help install irrigation, water catchment, and other systems.
Two members of Grow Permaculture (formerly Permaculture Guild) Koreen Brennan and Bob Lawrason, will be headed to Pine Ridge in late April for approximately three weeks, from the Tampa Bay area. We are looking for other volunteers to come up from the Tampa area to carpool and share travel costs. There will also be volunteers coming from Oregon, Wisconsin, California and elsewhere.
Please consider a tax deductible donation via our donation Pay Pal button.
If you have donations of materials or would like to volunteer, please contact us via the web site!