By SARAH MCCLELLAN-WELCH
EBCI AGRICULTURE EXTENSION AGENT
Principal Chief Michell Hicks will distribute his Cherokee Family Garden Kits on Thursday, March 20 at 5pm at the Yellowhill Outdoor Gym. This is the 11th year he has provided starter garden kits to 750 EBCI families to encourage home gardening.
Eight types of vegetable seeds and a fruiting shrub are featured in this year’s kit. The seeds are a mix of heritage vegetables, old standbys, and a few new ones to try. Cherokee seeds include creasy greens, hominy corn and Indian beans. Everybody’s favorite standbys are yellow squash and cucumbers. The new ones to try this year are Sugar Ann Pea, Pac Choi (an easy to grow, tasty type of cabbage) and spaghetti squash.
Vegetables from these seeds will provide each family fresh produce valued at $600. This project potentially contributes nearly half of a million dollars to Cherokee families in nutritious foods. Every kit also includes a Saskatoon Serviceberry seedling. Saskatoon is a shorter and more fruitful variety of our native Serviceberry tree. It will reach only ten feet tall and provide lots of dark purple berries in June and July. The kits also include a gardening booklet with spring and fall planting dates, planting depth and spacing details and nutrient information. The kits are available on a first-come-first-served basis.
Participants in the Cost Rica Eco Study Tour will be holding a fund-raiser next to the Garden Kit event with Costa Rican coffee, dessert fry bread and fry bread dinners for sale. The student travelers are raising money to sponsor a community improvement project in a remote Native Costa Rican village.
Many community volunteers, MTW volunteers, EBCI Tribal staff and EBCI Cooperative Extension staff work hard to bring the Garden Kits together every year to benefit Cherokee families and promote gardening traditions. Participants have said that they eat more vegetables and fruits and get more physical exercise because of their home garden – and that’s worth a million!