Trees Water & People

Trees, Water & People is committed to improving people's lives by helping communities to protect, conserve and manage the natural resources upon which their long-term well-being depends. We believe that natural resources are best protected when local people play an active role in their care and management.
May 22, 2014

Solar Warrior Farm Update: Watch us grow!

Cheers to a new growing season!
Cheers to a new growing season!

Not even a Mother’s Day snow storm could hold back the early plantings at the Solar Warrior Farm (SWF) and Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center. Hardy cabbages survived and are ready to greet the next sets as they arrive. May is a funny month in Zone 4, but many of the gardeners on the Pine Ridge Reservation are happy to see the last frost behind them and they are ready to start more of those early crops of spinach, cabbage, carrots, radishes and raspberries.

We were lucky enough to have a visit from Lakota elder and seasoned garden expert Caroline Cuny. She helped us welcome our new Solar Warrior Farm Coordinator for the season – Anna Dunlap, a student from Berea College in Kentucky. A lifetime organic gardener, Anna still had many questions about what works best in the particular microclimates on Pine Ridge. It really takes knowledge and experience to sense what the season might be like this year, and we are very thankful that Ms. Cuny could spend a day, have some lunch and share her time and talents with our crew.

And about those other tasks… The SWF needed some TLC. The beds are tilled, the plantings mapped out and visions of big, juicy tomatoes danced in our heads, as we mucked out the solar powered water tank, weeded the cabbages and cleaned out a space for work tables and starters in the greenhouse. Thanks to Uma Black Hawk-Wilkinson from the Cheyenne River community for helping with those efforts.

It just seems when help is needed, people show up. Trees, Water & People likes to be able to show up for others as well. We are very grateful for you showing up with your ongoing support, and look forward to another bumper crop season to share with the community in this year. In 2014, we plan on sharing more veggies and sharing knowledge through more workshops on gardening - focusing on traditional Lakota recipes and healthy eating. Gardening is a perfect time to bring young people and elders together, and helps keep Native communities strong. You make that possible through GlobalGiving.

We hope you will continue donating to this important project and consider visiting RCREC and Solar Warrior Farm in 2014. Keep in touch and watch us grow!

Caroline Cuny shares her knowledge with Anna
Caroline Cuny shares her knowledge with Anna
Uma and Jamie cleaning out the water tank
Uma and Jamie cleaning out the water tank
Solar Warrior Farm - May 2014
Solar Warrior Farm - May 2014
Get your hands dirty at Solar Warrior Farm!
Get your hands dirty at Solar Warrior Farm!
Apr 22, 2014

Sacred Earth Lodge Now Hosting Groups and Workshops!

Elmer Melton, First Alaskan Trainee
Elmer Melton, First Alaskan Trainee

We are excited to report that the Sacred Earth Lodge is now hosting groups and workshops! Thanks to generous donors like you, we have been able to open the doors to this one-of-a-kind training facility and provide Native American students with a beautiful and comfortable learning space. The new Lodge is a great addition to the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) and offers our Tribal Renewable Energy Program room to grow into a more impactful program for Native American communities. Here are some exciting updates since our last report was published:

Solar Heating System Installed at the Sacred Earth Lodge

As we mentioned in the last report, we planned to use your generous donations to help install a solar hot water heater at the new Lodge. Well, we are excited to report that the new system was installed in early February and it is running great! We heard from our friend Specter, who donated his time and renewable energy background to install the system, a few weeks after the installation was completed: "I performed checks and maintenance on the new system. Not only was the building quite a bit warmer than the outside air temperature, it also felt good. So good, that I ran around checking the electric baseboards installed in the bedrooms and bathrooms, thinking that they might by cranked up. But they were all turned down. The solar thermal was carrying the heat load of the building all on its own."

First Native Student from Alaska

We used the installation of the new solar hot water heater as an opportunity for learning and training. This was the first time we had taught a course on solar hot water systems and also the first time we had a student from Alaska visit RCREC! Elmer Melton is from the Noorvik Native Community in Noorvik, Alaska. Elmer describes himself as “a miser in energy use” and has had experience with energy conservation programs in his community. In his application, he said he “would like to learn how to make hot water with renewable energy sources” so he can share this knowledge with his native community. With fuel costs being so high in his community, Elmer is eager to learn about clean, renewable energy alternatives. It was great to have the Lodge open for Elmer!

Henry Red Cloud Honored by White House

On Thursday, April 17, our Tribal Program Partner and co-manager of the Sacred Earth Lodge was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change for his efforts to promote and expand solar deployment in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors. Congrats to Henry!

Training Season Starting

Our training season is just getting started, and the Lodge will be more important than ever this spring, summer and fall. We kick off the season next week with a straw bale volunteer trip, which gives people from all walks of life the opportunity to learn how to build their own sustianable and affordable buildings. Next, we will continue our green building theme with a Compressed Earth Block Training in May, working in collaboration with EARTHinBLOCKS. In July, we will host our second Native American Green Business Development Training, followed by our first dual Solar Air Heater/ Solar Electric training in partnership with GRID Alternatives. More information on most of these events can be found at www.solarwarriors.org.

Thank you for helping to build this incredible facility for our students. We greatly appreciate your support as we continue to improve the Sacred Earth Lodge. Our next big project is expanding our leech fields - not the most glamorous of projects but very necessary. Stay tuned for more updates and please consider supporting this project in the future!

New Solar Hot Water Heater
New Solar Hot Water Heater
Henry Red Cloud at the White House
Henry Red Cloud at the White House
Feb 21, 2014

Preparing for a new harvest at Solar Warrior Farm

Sunset at Solar Warrior Farm
Sunset at Solar Warrior Farm

As all the gardeners out there know, it is time to start thinking about this year’s harvest! At Trees, Water & People, we are gearing-up for another great season at Solar Warrior Farm. In 2014, with your support, our Food Security Program will distribute free veggies, offer educational workshops, and help Lakota families living on the Pine Ridge Reservation start their own backyard gardens. In 2014, we will plant a wide variety of organic produce including, potato, cucumber, squash, tomato, corn, melon, peppers, carrots, and a variety of berries.

Next month, ten Colorado State University students will join us for a week-long alternative spring break service trip, helping us to prepare Solar Warrior Farm for the new growing season. In addition, we are looking forward to hosting an intern at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center (RCREC) for the summer. Anna Dunlap from Berea College will oversee the Farm as well as providing help with general operations at RCREC.

The RCREC campus is growing too! Home to Solar Warrior Farm, RCREC recently added a new building: Sacred Earth Lodge.  This one-of-a-kind training center is an eco-friendly and affordable space available for rent to conferences, workshops, and by visitors to the area. This new building sleeps 23, greatly expanding our housing options for students and guests who visit RCREC. In October 2013, we hosted the grand opening if the Lodge, which included a tour of Solar Warrior Farm! 

Many thanks for the ongoing support from all you GlobalGivers to help us raise funds for tools, equipment, and seeds this year. We hope you will continue donating to this important project and consider visiting RCREC and Solar Warrior Farm in 2014. Stay tuned for updates as winter fades, spring blooms, and planting begins!

Farm Tour
Farm Tour
The chickens are ready for a new season!
The chickens are ready for a new season!
Bountiful harvests await
Bountiful harvests await

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