Running Strong for American Indian Youth

For most Pine Ridge Indian Reservation residents in South Dakota, a trip to the nearest grocery store is a 67-mile drive—one way—a bad situation even before the restrictions of pandemic life made circumstances more difficult. But thanks to the efforts of the Medicine Root Gardening Program, hundreds of families have learned how to grow, and sell, their own food closer to home.

The free program—funded by Newman’s Own Foundation—is an official partner of Billy Mills’ Running Strong for American Indian Youth and is led by Oyate Teca Project Executive Director Rose Fraser. It includes nine months of course work beginning with a class that teaches how to plan, plot, and plant beautiful organic home gardens. These gardens feed families and teach children healthy eating habits, and they also give program participants the opportunity to learn business practices for seasonal income, for example, by selling surplus produce at the local farmer’s market or by canning in the winter.

This program has served the Reservation since 2015, with participation increasing each year. The inaugural class included eight students, and 48 are participating in 2021.


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