With the first day of spring less than a month away, the Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative (SFSI) announced that they will be expanding their tribally-supported agriculture (TSA) food subscription program. This year seasonal options will be available for the spring, summer, and fall, and lower-income families will be able to participate at a lower cost.
“We are super excited to be able to expand the TSA program this year,” said Karen Moore, who is the Market Coordinator for SFSI (formerly known as REDCO Food Sovereignty). “The TSA is really a win-win, because it provides fresh, healthy food to people while also supporting local and Indigenous-owned businesses.”
The TSA program is modeled after the popular community-supported agriculture (CSA) concept. The farm membership system allows consumers to sign up to receive a season’s worth of a farm’s products with new offerings each week.
Moore, an enrolled citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, says that last year’s smaller pilot program was well-received and that the expansion will allow more people to participate over a longer period. The first boxes for the spring subscription will be ready on May 23rd and the fall program is slated to last into October, closing with a farm-to-table meal for those who participated. “We want to show our appreciation to the subscribers and also have a chance to find out what they liked and didn’t like so we can improve the program for next year,” Moore said.
With the boxes being spread throughout the year, it also means that participants will get to try more foods that are in-season. “Spring will have more leafy greens and fresh herbs. Summer will have tomatoes, peppers, summer squash. And fall will be cooler weather crops like root veggies, winter squash, and dried herbs,” said Moore. They added that the market value for the products received is over $30 per week.
Moore acknowledged that – because Rosebud is a food desert where reliable and affordable access to fresh produce is limited – some of the products may be new or unfamiliar to subscribers. “Another change we are making this year is that we want to include more information and recipes in the box, so that people know how to store and prepare the foods.”
Registration for the spring and fall season shares opened this week in conjunction with the national CSA Week. Participants are able to sign up online at www.sicangucdc.org/food-sovereignty or by calling the REDCO office at (605)856-8400.
Moore emphasized that the program is meant to be financially accessible to everyone in the community. “This year we are using a ‘sliding scale’ price so that the cost varies based on a family’s income level. Lower income folks can get up to 50% off. People can also use EBT to cover the cost of the subscription, and we allow them to pay on a month-to-month basis.”
Additionally, they will be offering Wacantognake (generosity) shares which will be completely complimentary. Moore said that the Food Sovereignty team hopes to work with community presidents in the communities where they host their mobile market to identify families who would benefit most from the program.
While subscriptions for each season are limited, SFSI will also have plenty of fresh produce available when they host their weekly farmers’ marketing in Mission and mobile markets in outlying communities.