The owners of The Farm Cart, an organic produce stand in Carpinteria, organized an effort to deliver supplies to protesters at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
With extra potatoes and butternut squash left over after Thanksgiving, Jason Lesh decided to make the 30-hour journey to North Dakota.
He said it was hard to watch peaceful protesters being threatened physically and with eviction.
“With the coming onslaught of veterans in support of Standing Rock, I felt a strong call to bring all of the resources that we had available to us out there,” Lesh said.
Lesh reached out to some local organic growers and friends, and the donations started pouring in.
Lesh and two friends filled his van with thousands of pounds of food, including the produce and other items then started driving.
“Before we left, we were told that we were going to be fined for entering the reservation and anyone bringing supplies to Standing Rock was going to get a $1,000 fine,” Lesh said.
But, that wasn’t the case when they arrived. There were no roadblocks and the people were peaceful and welcoming.
“There hadn’t been any supplies coming and we were one of the first trucks to come in after the snow,” Lesh said. “There is a security checkpoint. First, they say, ‘Welcome water protector’ and give you a hug and tell you how happy they are to see you.”
Lesh said the camps are highly organized with kitchens, and an emergency medic system making sure people are safe as the weather temperatures plummet.
The supplies of vegetables filled the root cellar of the main kitchen at one of the camps. The other half of the supplies went to another kitchen.
Lesh said the announcement that the Army Corps of Engineers will not grant a permit allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under a portion of the Missouri River is a small victory, but there is still some distrust on the part of the indigenous people.
“These are people that have had treaties made and broken by our government for hundreds of years,” Lesh said. “They are absolutely staying through the winter. There is no doubt in my mind those camps will be large and continuing.”