Growing Food Producers on the Rosebud
In this episode of Food Revolution, we hear from Karen Moore, one of the SFSI's WIK interns. The WIK internship, short for Waicahya Icagapi Kte or ‘They Will Grow into Producers,' is a year-long paid adult internship for tribal members interested in becoming food producers. Our first intern cohort has been working and learning with the SFSI since November 2019. The internship was designed in collaboration with Dakota Rural Action to provide both on-farm and classroom training for community members who want to be a part of building a local foods economy right here on the Rosebud Reservation. The two types of training allows them to learn the technical skills needed to grow and produce food and also ensures they have the business background necessary to make their future operations financially sustainable and profitable.
Full show notes & transcription available here.
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(Intro) Hau Mitakuyapi, and welcome to the Food Revolution, brought to you by the Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative. Every other week we'll be bringing you stories of food sovereignty from community members and tribal food producers working to build a more just, equitable, and regenerative food system for our Sicangu Lakota Oyate - the Burnt Thigh Nation. Together, we're building tribal sovereignty through food, and we've set a place at the table just for you. Join us and be a part of the Food Revolution.
Michelle: Anpetu waste, and thanks for tuning in to this episode of Food Revolution, brought to you by the Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative. I'm Michelle, the FSI Market Manager and your host for today's episode. Our next episode will air two weeks from today. Today we're talking to our WIK intern, Karen Moore. Our WIK internship also known as Waicahya Icagapi Kte, or They Will Grow Into Producers, is a year-long paid internship for tribal members interested in becoming food producers. It began in November 2019 and was designed to provide teaching and learning opportunities for community members who want to help build a local food economy to feed our Oyate. Interns receive both on-farm as well as classroom training over the course of the year. The two types of training allows them to learn the technical skills needed to grow and produce food, and also ensures they have the business background necessary to make their future operations financially sustainable.
M: Karen, thanks for joining me today. Can you tell me a bit about yourself and your background?
Karen: My family is originally from the St. Francis community. That's where my dad's family is from. And while I was growing up, we moved around to some different communities like Rosebud. Uh, we lived very briefly up around Horse Creek and now we're back in the Antelope community. I went to kindergarten like the one year for kindergarten at St. Francis Indian school, and then Todd County until I was in eighth grade. And then I went to high school and graduated from the White River High School in 2013. After that, I enrolled at Sinte Gleska University and got my Associates degree in Biological Sciences in 2016, and then continued on to get my Bachelor's in Environmental Sciences. In 2018, I worked at the radio station that is now KOYA, but used to be KINI back in the day, my sister and I, we had a show there. I worked there over the summers, like with different shifts, picked up some production skills, which was really fun. And then I started working at Sinte Gleska University as a work study when I was taking classes there. I interned down at the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia for six months. Um, and then when I came back, I started working part time at the Buffalo Brew coffee house or coffee shop, then moved into like a full time manager kind of thing. And was there until just the beginning of this year. Last fall is when I applied for the WIK internship through the Food Sovereignty Initiative.
M: How did you become interested in working with food?
K: I really didn't think about like where my food came from or the people that worked into providing the food, I really didn't think about any of that stuff until maybe like a year or a year and a half ago. I always just would go to the store and get the cheapest thing I could find for what was on the menu for my meals for the week. And, you know, like some snacks if I was going to crave something. But like, I never really thought about like what I would do, like what we're facing right now with this Corona. If you go to the store and like what you want to have, if it isn't there, if it's super expensive, would just be better for, for myself and my family.
M: How did you become involved with the Food Sovereignty Initiative? Can you share a bit of your past experiences working with the Initiative?
K: While I was working at the Buffalo Brew last year, I met some of the folks that were working at FSI at the time. And as I took over more of a manager position for the Buffalo Brew, I started setting up at their farmers' markets that they had last summer and went to a couple of their mobile markets, where they went out to different communities last year. And I was just so impressed by the work that they were doing, remembering when the garden first got started up and just seeing how much it had grown during that time was just, it was, it was so cool. And so when they were advertising for their WIK internships last fall, I thought that that could be a way to like get my foot in the door and, um, you know, learn some skills that I could use in the future to provide for myself and my family and like local community members and definitely this whole pandemic and like really having to learn how to provide for yourself. That was definitely one of the furthest things from my mind. Like, I definitely did not see this happening at all, but now I'm, I'm grateful, you know, that I've been able to learn so much to use during this time. Cause I don't know what I would be doing. Like I would probably be freaking out more than I usually do if I didn't have the skills to kind of help myself and my family throughout this time.
M: What is your biggest takeaway or favorite thing you've done or learned from the internship so far?
K: I've really gotten into like the no-till raised beds way of gardening. And so like the way I have my plot set up now it's a 20 foot by 20 foot-ish plot in the Keya Wakpala Garden and I've gotten wooden pallets and spaced them out in my plot and layered them. Um, and then like a mulching in between each pallet. But it's cool because like I don't have to till up the ground and disturb the things that are happening there. Um, my weeding, the time that I would spend weeding, like that was one thing I definitely disliked very much when we had a garden when I was growing up was all of the weeding. And even like when we were growing up, we would put, uh, like that weeding fabric in the garden. Like those weeds would still come up in the middle of summer and we'd be out there in the hot sun, like polling things up and it just, it wasn't fun. I didn't enjoy it. I loved picking the produce that we grew, but not the weeding part. So like with this, no till stuff, I might have to do some weeding just because, you know, it's outside where weeds grow, but I don't have to do as much. And I'm not out there in the middle of the summer heat sweating and just miserable and pulling up all of these weeds. And then, you know, some weeds don't even come up and it's just, it's not fun. There are people out there who I'm sure love weeding. I'm definitely not one of those people.
M: And finally, can you share, what plans you have for after the internship?
K: I'm just, I'm really looking forward to seeing how I can start so small this summer and continue to grow and become more sovereign with like a home site. And I definitely want to get a greenhouse so that I can grow things all year round. So I'm not just limited to like the short growing season that we have and continuing to, to grow from there to teach what I've learned and what I will continue to learn to future generations. People who like me just started learning little bits by little bits and began to become more sovereign and self-sustainable, you know, I'm just, I'm just excited to see where I will be going from here.
M: All right. Well, I think that's all we have time for today. Thank you for joining me and thank you for your dedication and the work you put into learning how to become food producers. I think I can speak for all of us at the FSI when I say that we're incredibly excited to see all the work you're doing, pay off. To all of our listeners, if you're interested in producing food for our Oyate, but don't feel you have the skills or knowledge to do so just yet, consider an internship with the FSI. Applications for our next WIK intern cohort will open up in September. Don't forget to follow us on Facebook at the Sicangu Community Development Corporation, Instagram @sicangucdc, and check out our website, www.sicangucdc.org, where we post weekly blog posts on Wednesday mornings. You've been listening to Food Revolution with the Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative. Thanks for tuning in and we'll catch you next time two weeks from today.
Host: Michelle Haukaas
Editing: Karen Moore
Produced by: Mairi Creedon
Brought to you by Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative of Food Revolution