The lack of availability of healthy foods has contributed to the unprecedented rates of food related disease among Tribal members living on the Reservation. According to recent research done on the Pine Ridge Reservation by Benjamin Jewell and Kathleen Pickering from Colorado State University; "more than 71% of households are impacted by dietary diseases."
The unequal land-use has also contributed to the highly insecure food economy on Pine Ridge today which is heavily dependent on Federal commodities and highly processed foods. Despite the fact that there is a great deal of agricultural production taking place on and around the reservation, the majority of foods are shipped in hundreds or even thousands of miles, only 3% come from wild foods - local vegetable production is not even significant enough to represent here.
This project will serve as a demonstration of low-cost, sustainable and regenerative food systems that residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation can implement on their lands to supplement their diets, making them less reliant on expensive store-bought commodities.
A key concept behind food forests are that they mimic natural, regenerative food systems that utilize perennial fruit bearing trees and plants suitable for the soils and climate for that region. Once developed, they should keep producing healthy, low-cost foods for generations and with very little management.