January 23, 2023
Source: The Guardian
Near the southern border of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, a curved translucent roof peeks out a few feet above the dusty plains. It’s a blustery November afternoon and the last remaining greens outside are fading fast. But below ground, at the bottom of a short flight of stairs, the inside of this 80ft-long sleek structure is bursting with life – pallets of vivid microgreens, potato plants growing from hay bales and planters full of thick heads of Swiss chard and pak choi. Two people bend over the pallets, using scissors to harvest delicate sprouts of microgreens.
This is an underground greenhouse, or walipini, and the harvesters are members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. It is one of at least eight underground greenhouses that, over the past decade, have been built or are being constructed on the reservation – which has one of the highest poverty rates in the US. Some hope they can help solve the interconnected problems of the lack of affordable, nutritious food and the difficulties of farming in the climate crisis.
Read more: An Indigenous reservation has a novel way to grow food — below the Earth’s surface.