Now in its second season, the Cheyenne River Youth Project’s Leading Lady Farmers Market has reached new heights—and continues to grow. To date, the market has raised more than $1,000 to support CRYP programming and services, it has educated 15 teen interns, and it’s giving participating community members a valuable revenue stream of their own.
And more good news is on the way. According to Ryan Devlin, CRYP’s sustainable agriculture manager, it involves more teen internships, more community vendors, and even a veggie of the week.
“Our garden internship program has been a great success,” reported Devlin, an advocate of sustainable community-based agriculture who earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural science from New York’s Cornell University.
“For eight weeks this summer, 15 teen interns have harvested and washed more than 300 pounds of fresh produce from our 2-acre, non-GMO, pesticide-free Winyan Toka Win garden, and then sold that produce to members of the Cheyenne River community through the Leading Lady Farmers Market. We’re looking forward to welcoming even more teen interns at the end of August for the late summer and early fall harvest season.”
He also noted that the Leading Lady Farmers Market has space for more community vendors who are interested in selling their homemade crafts, baked goods, or home-grown produce. There is no fee to participate; interested entrepreneurs simply contact Devlin at (605) 964-8200 to reserve their tables, each of which will be equipped with a tent and chairs.
“Not only do vendors have access to this space free of charge for the entirety of each Friday market, they’ll also benefit from CRYP’s public relations and advertising efforts, and they’ll be able to tap into a well-established base of customers, including Keya Cafe customers and CRYP staff and volunteers,” Devlin said.
Vendors of all ages, including youth, are welcome to participate. And Devlin observed that business has been brisk, with one vendor completely selling out of her home-made pies at a June market. Proceeds from CRYP produce, canned goods, crafts and other products benefit the youth project; vendors keep 100 percent of profits from their own sales.
Accommodating 10 community members as well as youth project staff and volunteers, the Leading Lady Farmers Market is held each Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at CRYP’s East Lincoln Street campus. Set-up starts at 8 a.m.
The next market will take place on Friday, August 8, and this week marks the start of CRYP’s Veggie of the Week program. Each week, the organization will feature one Winyan Toka Win vegetable that is in season; this week’s star is zucchini.
“The veggie of the week will be available at a discounted price and featured in our hand-drawn recipe cards at the market,” Devlin said. “It’ll also be used in meals and educational activities for our kids during the week.
“It’ll be a fun way to learn more about different seasonal vegetables and how to prepare them, as well as about benefits of growing nutritious foods right here on Cheyenne River, ” he continued. “We’re encouraging members of the community to visit the Leading Lady Farmers Market on Friday to learn more about our featured veggie — and take some home at a bargain price!”
The Leading Lady Farmers Market was formally established in July 2013. After nearly 10 years of hosting a small weekly farmers market to sell fresh produce and canned goods from its Winyan Toka Win garden, CRYP was able to expand the market into its current form thanks to a grant from the Northwest Area Foundation and a dedicated vision to developing sustainable, sovereign food systems and community-based entrepreneurship.
The Winyan Toka Win garden lies close to the heart of the 25-year-old, not-for-profit, grassroots youth organization. While the Leading Lady Farmers Market is perhaps the most visible extension of CRYP’s garden program, its harvested produce also is used in the youth and teen centers’ meals and snacks, in the farm-to-table Keya Cafe, in the Keya Gift Shop, and in classes and workshops that involve food preparation and processing, nutrition, meal planning, and even diabetes prevention.
To support Winyan Toka Win and sustainable agriculture initiatives like the Leading Lady Farmers Market, visit www.lakotayouth.org and click “Donate Now.” If you’re interested in making an in-kind donation, you may call the office at (605) 964-8200 to discuss the most pressing garden needs.
To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call (605) 964-8200 or visit www.lakotayouth.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
The Cheyenne River Youth Project, founded in 1988, is a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing the youth of the Cheyenne River reservation with access to a vibrant and secure future through a wide variety of culturally sensitive and enduring programs, projects and facilities that ensure strong, self-sufficient families and communities.