Home Gardens Feed Communities: An Audio Tour with Corrinne Sully
In this episdode of Food Revolution, you'll be listening to an excerpt from a conversation with Corrinne Sully, a member of the Okreek community on the Rosebud Reservation as well as a food sovereignty advocate, seed saver, and the cook for the Okreek elementary school. The conversation was recorded this past August during a tour of Corrinne’s home garden. Before COVID, Corrinne lead garden to cafeteria efforts and planting activities for kids at the Okreek school. In the summer months she can be found giving away produce from her garden on Sunday afternoons in downtown Mission. Corrinne is a lifelong gardener, and, for those of you who listened to our previous episode, sister to Carmelita Sully, Manager of the Sinte Gleska University Greenhouse.
Transcription available here.
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(Intro) Han Mitakuyapi, and welcome to 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 the 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 part of the food revolution.
Mairi (00:00:30) Hey everyone. This is Mairi with the Food Sovereignty Initiative. In today's episode, you'll be hearing an excerpt from a conversation with Corrinne Sully, an Okreek community member, food sovereignty advocate, and the cook for the Okreek elementary school. The conversation was recorded this past August during a tour of Corrinne’s home garden. Before COVID, Corrinne led to garden to cafeteria efforts and planting activities for kids at the Okreek school. In the summer months, she can be found giving away produce from her garden on Sunday afternoons in downtown Mission. Corrinne is a lifelong gardener, and, for those of you who listened to our previous episode, sister to Carmelita Sully, Manager of the SGU Greenhouse. The complete conversation will be available Friday afternoon on our website, www.sicangucdc.org, or you can listen on Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or Pocket Casts.
Mairi How much time do you spend gardening?
Corrinne (00:01:20) Between my husband and I probably ten to twelve hours a day. Because he does all the watering and some of the weeding, but I do all of the planting and all of the harvesting, and sometimes he'll help and help me carry stuff in. But yesterday I picked thirty pounds of tomatoes and probably sixty hot peppers. So this weekend is salsa, I'd rather grow it and eat it. You can eat it. Then I give, you know, I give a lot of it away. Originally, I was supposed to be doing a garden to salad bar kind of experiment with the kids. Well, I did it last year and the kids really loved it because they got to go into the garden and pick what they wanted on the salad bar. And they just started the day that they told me they absolutely had to have jalapenos on the salad bar. We went through like three times the amount of milk that we normally go through that line because they, because no matter what they pick to put on the salad bar, they had to try it and at least take one piece. And they, it was, as a matter of fact, the last day we had school, um, I was planting flowers with them for Easter or Mother's Day or whatever, you know, we were going to be drawing flowers and, and, and then we never had school again.
(00:03:04) The most work is in the springtime when you're planting everything. And then, then it's pretty much just walking around and telling them how pretty they are, how good their fruit is going to taste.
Mairi Do you keep a track of your harvest?
Corrinne I'm lucky if I keep track of what I planted where, I'll be honest with you, obviously, since I have cantaloupes in with the cucumbers. And so I come from a family of fifteen kids, um, our potato patch and corn patch was probably as big as my yard. So this is nothing compared to the garden that we had as, as children, because we did can everything and we did eat and we did harvest cherries and plums, grapes, things like that. Oh yeah. Did you see the wild grapes on my porch?... Three years ago, I cut it totally back.
(00:04:13) Last year was my first really good grape harvest. You can see where the birds come and just try to get everything. There are a lot of great, I know there's a nice bunch of them and you don't harvest wild grapes until after the first frost. ‘Cause the first frost brings up the sweet, the natural sugars. Now I am learning that cooking with Stevia is, uh, you have to alter your recipes quite a bit, especially, especially with your pectin. You have to add more, like for jams, for jams and jellies because I'm diabetic. So I don't, I try not to do as much sugar as I used to. So, but I didn't even get any cherries or anything this year, but I still have cherries and plums and, and, uh, buffalo berries in the freezer from last year. So, and then I also learned how to butcher a pig.
(00:05:22) … and the chickens don't eat it. I take those kernels and wild bird seed, bird seed, and I grind it together in my food processor. And that's what I feed my chickens. ‘Cause it's way cheaper than buying the chicken feed in that they tell you [need]. So this is where I was pouring weight, pulling it around. And this came up. The wild birds like to come and eat it. But yeah, I, I love spending time outdoors and I love growing things, but the perfect combination, right?
Karen What [happened with] the little starter plants you were giving away in the spring?
Corrinne I gave them 450 plants. I planted 600, but only like, like 480 came to fruition. And then I had, you know, a few die on me and then what I didn't give away, I planted in my garden. So, but yeah, I gave, you know, and like I said, even if just 1% of them grew and… fed somebody, then I've done my job. But yeah, a lot of people who came and got them, and some people planted them before the frost and ended up coming and getting more. And like my sister, Christine, her entire garden got wiped out by one of the storms.
(00:06:57) So, you know, thank goodness I, my garden is as big as it is. She came and got some cucumbers and made pickles and, you know, things like that.
Mairi Canning and drying, are those the main types of preserving that you do?
Corrinne And freezing. Tomatoes, I'll just wash them, core them, cut them in fours and put them in a bag and put them in the freezer. Then when you put them in a soup or something, it all just tastes like a tomato, almost straight from the garden. It's delicious. It's delicious. But because I have four deer tags this year, I got drawn for the raffle and they are two bucks. So then you get a doe tag with each of those. So this year I'm trying to dry and can as much as possible to save the space in the freezer for deer meat.
(00:08:01) And then I'm going to have to, you know, butcher the chickens eventually...That's all I can say is, I can't wait to taste real chicken. It's been a while since I had a farm raised chicken.
Karen Do you get any eggs from them or they're just for meat?
Corrinne Um, yeah, they're layers. They haven't started laying. Yeah, they probably won't start laying for about, um, probably a month or so. I do want to build… a little coop right out here for them. And then, I'll just keep like ten, twelve for the winter time. I do have another seventy-five because I, you know, I need at least one chicken a week, right? Fifty chickens. I don't count Thanksgiving and Christmas cause that's a Turkey or ham week, but you know, we, we do eat a lot of chickens and things like that. And I give a lot of food away.
(00:09:17) I've had people from the community come and tell me, “Hey, I can't make it until food stamp day” or whatever. And I'll just give food to [them]. I did lose some chickens to stray cats. One day I only had part of the, I only had one of the screens made and they were little. So I knew they couldn't fly out yet. You know? So I just had taken the board off and opened it up for them to get more air in there. And my husband and I had just discussed the night before about how I needed to, because they were starting to be able to fly a little bit and I needed to be able to, I needed to get that second screen made and I took a nap. And when I woke up from the nap, there were chicken parts. There weren't any dead chickens. They were just heads and wings. That's how, I'm pretty sure it's a cat because the cat will leave just the head. But yeah, all that’s left on my list before winter is harvest and can and build a little chicken coop enough to keep ten chickens.
(00:10:42) And then they have these old, old lockers there. They're about this probably ten inches by ten inches by maybe a foot deep. And I'm going to use those for my nesting boxes. Then I don't have to build a nest. All I have to do is build a roos on the front of them.
Mairi Do you do any prep for the winter, for your garden to get it ready?
Corrinne I just let everything die off. And then over the winter time, it'll, you know, compost as much as possible. And then the springtime is when I go through and I pull all the dead plants out and start working my soil and I do, I do do tilling. Um, I know a lot of people say don't till, but like where I already till, I won't till again, but I'll till another spot to grow something different. Eventually, I don't want to mow at all. I just want food and medicine and flowers. That's all I want in my whole yard - and chickens. And you don't have to mow the chicken yard, they keep it down very well. That's it. That's Old Ms. Sully’s Farm.
Outro (00:11:59) You've been listening to Food Revolution with the Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative. Don't forget to follow us on Facebook at Sicangu Community Development Corporation, Instagram @sicangucdc, and check out our website at www.sicangucdc.org, where we post weekly blog posts. Thanks for tuning in and we'll catch you next time in two weeks.
Hosts: Karen Moore & Mairi Creedon
Produced & edited by: Mairi Creedon
Brought to you by Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative of Food Revolution