By SARAH MCCLELLAN-WELCH
EBCI COOPERATIVE EXTENSION
This will be the eighth year for the distribution of Principal Chief Michell Hicks’ Cherokee Family Garden Kits. The Garden Kits are Chief Hicks’ initiative to preserve gardening as a Cherokee family tradition and support it as part of a healthy Cherokee lifestyle. This community project is lead by EBCI Cooperative Extension and carried out by staff and community volunteers every spring. Cherokee Choices, Cherokee Diabetes Program and Region A Smart Start have been annual participants in the events.
Over the years, the kits have included buckets, baskets, blueberry plants, apple trees, flowering dogwood trees, broccoli plants, cabbage plants and a variety for garden seeds. The kits are designed to plant a 25’ x 25’ garden. Planting and gardening instruction are included. Cherokee Choices has provided a booklet of healthy recipes each year. A list of gardening terms in the Cherokee language has also been an annual feature. Bandanas and hats have also been included.
The seeds provided in the garden kits are significant. The kits have consisted exclusively of heirloom vegetable seed since 2008. The advantage of the old-time, heirloom vegetable varieties is that they provide a sustainable seed source. Seed saving is only possible with non-hybrid, heirloom seed types. Cherokee Seeds and the Center for Cherokee Plants have provided the heirloom seeds for the garden kits.