By Heather Chappell
I’m sure you’re familiar with the old adage, “it takes a village to raise a child”. At Fort Collins Nursery we like to cast as wide a net as possible to help the proverbial village raise themselves. We receive numerous donation and sponsorship requests in any given year and we take great pride in giving to our “village”. This particular donation got my attention because of the amount of people who were being affected. I wanted to share this story with our customers to illustrate how doing a little can accomplish so much.
In 2012 we were approached by a group headed for the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Their goal was to help the people there get back to working their land and sustaining themselves with healthy foods and beneficial herbs. Between 2010 and 2011 the non-profit group Trees, Water & People (TWP) set up a program and some infrastructure that allowed both The Growing Project (TGP) and Global Natural Health Alliance (GNHA)to take things to the next level. In 2012 TGP and GNHA traveled to Pine Ridge with seeds, plant starts, and trees, including a donation from Fort Collins Nursery. Using these resources, the men at the Reservation jail set up, planted, and irrigated a large patch of ground to provide food for themselves and their families and give them priceless lessons in sustainability. Two trips were made to Pine Ridge in April and June of 2012 to get this project operating and as of now, they have doubled the size of that original plot of land.
The land itself had been utilized for centuries to cultivate indigenous corn but sat undisturbed for so many years that many tribe members had never seen anything growing there. One of the Lakota’ elders from the tribe was moved to tears when he came out to the garden patch to lend his hand and saw what was happening. He was taught how to harvest the veggies properly and helped with one of the first harvests of the season which included snap peas, lettuce and broccoli. Once harvested, he headed straight for the kitchen, now that is fresh!
TGP calls their outreach community gardens “Giving Gardens” because they provide the necessary tools, resources and education to give communities what they need to feed themselves. In this case, the Lakota of the Pine Ridge Reservation have been given the opportunity to reconnect with their heritage and not only feed themselves but leave a legacy for future generations to do the same.