Growing Healthy Food, Families and Communities across South Dakota

[music] Wagner, South Dakota is located right on the Missouri River towards the south edge of the state. The thing I love about living in a small town like Wagner is that small changes do make a big difference here. [music] Crow Creek reservation is definitely what would be classified as a food desert. We have this one grocery store Lynn’s Dakota Mart here, which is the primary store for shopping. We also have a couple of small convenience store gas stations. Otherwise community members have to travel to Chamberlain which is half our self or Pierre an hour north to buy food. Some of the challenges the children of Marty face are: one of them is poverty and one of them is isolation. They don’t have access to healthy vegetables or healthy food. The food comes from boxes or cans. There are some kids that have never eaten vegetables Right now we are seeing higher numbers than we want to with overweight and obesity and especially among our children. A physical activity people just are not getting the daily recommended amounts. We still see heart disease, diabetes, a lot of those chronic disease issues that really drive back to nutrition and physical activity. In Wagner we have two community gardens. At both gardens we have wild plantains growing. They have healing oils in them for your skin. So we’ve made salve with that and we hope to incorporate more medicinal plants in the future too. SDSU Extension has sponsored our garden programs around our area and Lake Andes, Wagner, Marty. We all kind of work together here. I don’t know if we could make it happen as easily without them. So it’s been a blessing to have them. SDSU Extension is a part of South Dakota State University we’re that outreach arm and it’s exciting because we can connect what’s going on in the teaching pieces at SDSU and the research and really bring it down to their level to what’s affecting their community and help to solve those problems, those real world problems. For kids we have onions, these ones are onions, these are beets. Our tribe used to be, there used to be a lot of gardeners. My grandma was a huge huge gardener. So I used that as an inspiration to help me bring that back to kids to teach them about gardening. These lessons that they’re learning here, they’re gonna carry on they’re gonna be able to use them throughout their life to teach their kids and their grandkids about gardening. We wouldn’t have this if it wasn’t for SDSU Extension. Like if you drive around Marty if there’s no other garden here so we’re it. If we can make produce an affordable choice for the community and make it something that they want to choose. Instead of kids surviving on ramen and chips choosing a healthy snack like an apple or a banana on a daily basis can help drive down the obesity rates and the diabetes rates and overall make the community a healthier place to live. What we feel like we do a great job at is that we’re not coming in and saying this is what you have to do or we have the answer for you. We really try to listen to the communities bring those stakeholders together that maybe haven’t talked before or haven’t even thought about maybe we do have an issue or a challenge . After we were able to get the stakeholders together we started with a variety of needs assessments and then after that the Stakeholders were able to kind of sift through what the biggest needs were and then choose interventions that were going to best suit their biggest needs. Every time we had community conversations or those assessments I made sure to try to involve any of our youth as much as possible. Without a doubt the shining star idea was to improve the playground at the park. Part of our hope I think is and whether it’s to the food pantry or beyond that is to help people not just come in and need the food or need the financial assistance that we also provide. But to offer them classes and education to move beyond that, you know to become more self-reliant in a sense. It is so just gratifying just to see that the little pieces that we can bring how they can change people’s lives and communities lives. I have never eaten an eggplant until this year. So because of the gardens and we got eggplants I’m very thankful for that. Like they opened up a whole new eggplant world. [music]

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