The Farmer's Market is Back at Red Cloud

Red Cloud Student Destiny Big Crow

Red Cloud’s first Farmer’s Market launched in 2019 and the event continues to flourish today, bringing locals together to celebrate nutritious, locally grown food. This year’s Farmer’s Market runs July 23rd and ends the first week in October, weather permitting.

Katie Chustak, Red Cloud’s Food Sovereignty Director, has been hosting and organizing the event since it began. Today, she describes the market as a beautiful community gathering around food. Despite the pandemic, there have been good changes such as the size of the market and the items being sold. This year continues to feature partners like Homegrown Pork & Poultry Meats, Thunder Valley CDC, and student and community farmers. Makoce Agriculture, a local organization, will join later this summer.

The market sells goods such as broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, winter squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and peppers. The Homegrown Pork & Poultry brings the cold cuts of different types of chicken and pork, and will sometimes bring bacon and sweet corn – a local favorite that often sells out. Other exciting items locals gravitate towards are the spicier homemade salsas and shaved ice.

Another highlight to this year’s Farmer’s Market has been the four student interns. Red Cloud students who expressed interest in the market were given a chance to run educational opportunity tables. This gave students a good hands-on training of what it is like to run and operate their own business. Some of the items they got to sell were zucchini bread, pickles, salsa, other produce, and shaved ice.

“I think it's good for young people to be thinking about the opportunities that we can do to get things going and do a community event during the pandemic. Also, the food can be local. The food can be from here, it can be grown here, purchased here, within the community and it’s good for the earth. And it’s healthy,” says Katie.

The market will be expanding as the season continues to include more vendors, an art project with Red Cloud’s Heritage Center, and two cooking demonstrations, as well as other things that are still in the works. The Farmer’s Market here at Red Cloud is something everyone looks forward to and it’s very rare that anyone visiting leaves empty-handed!

Red Cloud Student Jordan Little Whiteman

Q&A with Red Cloud’s Food Sovereignty Director

How has the Farmer's Market gone so far?

I think this year has been a really nice social thing. In the past, we've had the produce, the eggs and then me. And we also had pickles and zucchini bread. Just this past week, we had the most people at once that we've ever had. It was a really beautiful community gathering around food. People were eating their shaved ice and getting like their local meats, their local eggs and the local produce. It was a lovely gathering. So, it's been good this year, we definitely have more vendors, too.

Has there been anything different this year that was different from previous years?

Definitely the size. This year, I'm also really adding to it. I have some things coming in. We'll have some special programs during some of the weeks – one week to do an art project with the Heritage Center for people who come and then also two cooking demonstrations. I talked to AJ who does “Homegrown Pork & Poultry Meats” and he wants to do a pork burger cooking demonstration. Which sounds really fun. PWNA (Partnership With Native Americans), a nonprofit organization, has a mobile commercial kitchen. They’ve expressed interest in bringing it down, so I'll see if I can align those two dates. There's new things kind of in the works.

Who has been a part of the farmers market so far?

So far we've had Thunder Valley CDC Eggs. We've actually had four different groups of students do educational opportunity tables, getting a little bit of experience, what it’s like to have their own business. We've had students do zucchini bread, pickles, salsa, some produce and shaved ice. I think the student vendors are my favorite to see. I’m hoping Makoce with Nick Hernandez will come later in the season.

Can you tell me about some of the items you and other vendors are selling?

Any produce in season, it changes so we've had broccoli, zucchini, summer squash, winter squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers. We have swiss chard, but nobody really knew what to do with it. We've had basil. Everyone really loves the Homegrown Pork & Poultry, he brings all kinds of cuts of cold chicken and different cuts of pork. Sometimes he’ll bring something like roast or ground pork, he's brought pork sausage. He’ll also bring turkey and bacon.

What are the popular items you’ve noticed locals like to buy?

I don’t always know exactly what he’s [Homegrown Pork & Poultry] selling but I know he always sells out of the bacon and sweet corn. And then people were really excited for the hot salsa, people really enjoy spicy. All the student things people get really excited about like the shaved ice.

What do you hope people can take away from the farmers market?

I think it's good for young people to be thinking about the opportunities that we can do to get things going and do a community event during the pandemic. Also, the food can be local. The food can be from here, it can be grown here, purchased here, within the community and it’s good for the earth. And it’s healthy.

What do you anticipate for the Farmer’s Market in the future?

I hope to shift away from the school garden being there at the Farmer’s Market. I would like to leave that space for local growers. So right now there's not always enough local growers to be able to do a full Farmer’s Market. I usually have produce to do that [from the school garden]. But, ultimately I hope that new growers are developing to be able to expand to where they really can fill that space to provide for the communities… and I think there are, I can think of four or five folks that are just on the edge of being ready to do that, too. Then, the school garden can be available to the community in different ways.


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