EPICS Team Lakota was started as a way for students to help promote food sovereignty and combat loss of cultural knowledge as felt by the residents of Pine Ridge Reservation, which is located in one of the poorest counties in the United States and is a food desert. In partnership with EPICS students at Oglala Lakota College (OLC) and South Dakota School of Mines (SDSM), students at Purdue came up with the idea of putting up a greenhouse on the Rapid City Campus of OLC. This greenhouse was meant not as a direct solution to food scarcity, but as a blueprint to be implemented across the reservation in the future. The greenhouse will be a resource for students, teachers, residents, and community elders to come together and preserve the knowledge of culturally significant plants and herbs, as well as a place to learn how to grow the fresh produce that is so hard to find on the reservation. Students at all schools worked together to figure out the optimal size and construction of the greenhouse, and also worked with residents to determine what should be grown and how to meet the needs of each plant. Consideration was given to the sustainability of the project as this was important to the Lakota stakeholders, including ways to lighten the load on any water and electric utilities. The greenhouse was also designed to be ADA accessible, so that community elders and all who needed such accommodations would have no trouble taking part. Throughout the project, students kept in contact with each other and the affected community. This continuous communication both aided and impeded the progress of the project. Care was taken at each point in the project to make sure that the final deliverable was the most effective it could be. This paper will explore the successes of the project and how the students addressed concerns as they arose.
Bijonowski, Samantha; Johnson, Kathleen; and Damon, Jonathan
"EPICS Lakota: Promoting Food Sovereignty on Pine Ridge Indian Reservation,"
Purdue Journal of Service-Learning and International Engagement: Vol. 8
Available at: https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/pjsl/vol8/iss1/12