In the heart of Pine Ridge’s Wounded Knee District, a few miles up a dirt road west of Manderson lies Pepper Creek and the location of Pete Stand’s growing farm project. According to Pete, he’s just trying to make a better life for his kids and provide fresh vegetables to the local community. With a tractor recently purchased with a small grant from Village Earth, Pete is reclaiming old 1800’s farm implements used by his grandfather during a time before the relocation programs of the post WWII era and the HUD cluster housing projects of the 60’s and 70’s when families across the reservation lived on their allotted lands and grew much of their own food. Along with working seasonally for area ranchers, Pete is carving out his own niche by growing vegetables, raising goats, horses, and chickens and with the help of area extension agent Sean Burke, Pete plans to expand into raising pigs and ducks.
Pete is part of a growing movement of people on the Pine Ridge Reservation tired of living in the deteriorating housing projects with few options for work. A situation is compounded by the growing epidemic of diabetes on the reservation caused, in part, by the lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s a terrible irony that the poorest communities in America often pay the most for food and that highly processed foods tend to be the cheapest source of raw calories. This certainly holds true for the Pine Ridge Reservation but people like Pete Stands and others across the reservation are working to create a more equitable and localized food-web.
Village Earth first learned about Pete’s project from Calvin White Butterfly who is working to mobilize Tiyospayes (traditional sub-communities comprised of extended families) within the Wounded Knee District to utlize their lands to develop projects that enhance local self-reliance and cultural self-determination. We would like to thank Honor the Earth and the support of our donors for making these projects possible.
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