White Horse Creek ~ Manderson, SD
Before Earth Tipi was an organization, Shannon Freed, deep in the process organizing the house building project that would be come Gerald Weasel’s permanent home, applied to the Fruit Tree Planting Foundation (link) to participate in an online voting contest to win a fruit tree orchard for the Pine Ridge Reservation. At the time, she had to submit the name of an organization so she called the organization “Sustainable Homestead Designs” and gained fiscal sponsorship from Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation. She also worked with her father in law Gerald Weasel and the Oglala Sioux Tribe to secure a business lease where the orchard would be planted in the event they were to win the contest. In March of 2011 “Sustainable Homestead Designs” was accepted into the Communities Take Root contest sponsored by Edy’s Fruit Bars and The Fruit Tree Planting Foundation. On June 1, 2011 it was announced that Sustainable Homestead Designs, out of 125 communities, finished third in the top five to win a fruit tree orchard.
The orchard was planted on June 29, 2011 with 45 fruit trees consisting of apples, pears, plums and cherries. All but a few trees lasted the first winter and the fruit tree orchard is expected to start bearing fruit in the 2018 season.
The Communities Take Root contest continued through the summer. There were a total of 4 rounds with each round having 5 winners. Immediately following the victory for Sustainable Homestead Designs, Shannon found contact information for the top 3 other organizations residing on Indian Reservations. Of those 3, non were positioned to win that year. Shannon contacted those groups and assisted them in creating Facebook pages (which none of them had) and then turned her supporters to those pages. Scores of people continued to vote that season and the next. In 2011, both Dragonfly Garden Orchard for United Tribes and Kin’ta’ te Garden Project on the Hoopa Reservation won in the 3rd and 4th rounds respectively. The following year, voters turned out again to support Bridger Community Garden on the Cheyenne River Reservation who did not win in 2011 but was still very excited to have an orchard. In March of 2012 they re-entered the contest and the same supporters who supported native organizations in the previous years voted again, it was victory again and their orchard was planted in July.