Published On: Tue, Jun 10th, 2014

Youth Garden Summer program kicks off

This year’s gardens are shown (left-right): Jake Wiggins, Dakota Ward, Jayden Crowe, Emily Welch, Tierney Bradley, Lauren Luther, Awee Sequoyah, Destiny Bernhisel, Meli Meyers, Demetryus Bradley, Kyzik Wachacha, Asija Meyers, Jullian Rubio and Breanna Ison.  (Photos contributed)

This year’s gardens are shown (left-right):
Jake Wiggins, Dakota Ward, Jayden Crowe, Emily Welch, Tierney Bradley, Lauren Luther, Awee Sequoyah, Destiny Bernhisel, Meli Meyers, Demetryus Bradley, Kyzik Wachacha, Asija Meyers, Jullian Rubio and Breanna Ison.
(Photos contributed)

On Thursday evening, May 22, 60 people gathered at Kituwah Mound for a kick-off event for the Cherokee Youth Garden Summer Program.  The Cherokee Youth Garden is a program of Cherokee Choices Healthy Roots Project. The gardeners and their families met,shared a meal and toured the garden. All the gardeners that were chosen for the program were invited as well as their families.  Little Harvey’s Catering sponsored the event and cooked chicken, ramps and potatoes, and greens.  Families contributed by bringing side dishes of corn, beans, or squash, representing the three sisters. We would also like to thank Tribal Facilities Management for providing tables and chairs for the event.

The design for this year’s Cherokee Youth Garden was created by the local landscaping business Native Scapes, owned by Pat Oocumma. Inspiration for the design came from last year’s youth gardeners. This year’s design is made of a water spider (center), a mountain range (center-left), two spiral patterns (far left and far right), and double rows representing water (top and bottom).

The design for this year’s Cherokee Youth Garden was created by the local landscaping business Native Scapes, owned by Pat Oocumma. Inspiration for the design came from last year’s youth gardeners. This year’s design is made of a water spider (center), a mountain range (center-left), two spiral patterns (far left and far right), and double rows representing water (top and bottom).

The 8-week gardening program aims to engage youth in growing, eating and preserving local and traditional foods.  The youth will explore how food systems affect health, the economy, and environmental sustainability. The Cherokee Youth Garden also features a series of speakers and guests covering topics such as exploring the history of Kituwah, wild edible plants on the farm, yoga in the garden, public speaking, organic gardening practices, and how to develop a entrepreneurial outlet from growing food.

The program had over 40 applicants this year and through grant funding and Cherokee Choices, 15 youth were accepted into the program.  “We had 10 gardeners in 2013 and 5 in 2012.   Youth filled out applications, submitted references and went through interviews in order to qualify.  We wished we could have taken everyone who applied but we are limited by staff and funding”, said Joey Owle, program coordinator.

Follow the Cherokee Youth Gardeners this summer, along with other Healthy Roots programming, on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/HealthyRootsProject.