Tribal Wellness Garden
Native Wellness Garden
Our target audience is the many clients which access IHC from the nine Indian Reservation communities. Our Tribal Wellness Garden will emphasize interaction between elders and children. Many tribal elders have knowledge of Luiseno language, traditional uses of plants, and are willing to educate our youth in a traditional way. Many of our Elders have existing health conditions (particularly diabetes and heart disease) that will benefit from fresh vegetables and physical activity. Many community children come to IHC for health care and some attend the Rincon Indian Education Center and the Rincon Head Start. Our children love hands on learning, and welcome an opportunity to learn about their environment and heritage. The garden will provide valuable interaction between elders and children, giving the youth opportunity to about plants, nutrition, culture, and important skills and self-esteem. We have assembled a planning committee and an elders group to oversee the garden's creation and maintenance.
It is the goal of the Tribal Wellness Garden to teach children about gardening, nutrition, and culture, thereby promoting health and well being through education, physical involvement and activity. We also hope to provide nutritional foods to community members. By having ownership of a garden it is our vision that youth, elders and community members will begin to take ownership of their own wellness. With early education and understanding of the basic components of good health, we hope to develop good health habits in our youth and prevent disease, such as diabetes and heart disease, in later life. Elders will be working one on one with youth, teaching Luiseno language, traditional usage of vegetables and plants and basic gardening skills. This will provide a sense of personal achievement for both Youth and Elders, and contribute to the sense of ownership that we are striving for.
An Elder, Sam Reed will be overseeing the practical creation and maintenance of the garden. Mr. Reed is fluent in Luiseno language and readily teaches Native American youth their language. He is also a master gardener, in the past creating a 5 acre community garden. Mr. Reed plants a garden every year, not only for himself, but also for others. We also have commitments of involvement from 4 other Elders to date.
Rincon Tribal Council has identified one acre- behind the ball field- to be utilized for the garden site. It will be close to where the children and community gather (Head Start, RIEC, Tribal Hall, Ball Field and Fiesta grounds)
Rincon Indian Education Center will be notifying and inviting parents and children to participate in the project. RIEC will make the Wellness Garden a part of their tutorial curriculum, extending it to the summer program. RIEC has 118 children/ youth in their program. Indian Health Council, Inc. will notify their members about the garden, inviting all to participate. A special emphasis will be on involving the participants in our Diabetes clinic. Saturdays will be set-aside for all community members to prepare, plant and harvest the garden. After school hours will be for the children of RIEC and Elders exclusively. In the summer, a major part of the gardening and teaching will be done in the early morning, as this is preferable to most Elders. As harvesting begins, we will share both traditional and new nutritional recipes. Dishes will be prepared in the Tribal Hall kitchen and/ or the Head Start kitchen at the Parent Recourse Center. At the end of the season, we will have a Harvest Gathering Dinner. This will be a dinner prepared by the Youth and served to the Elders. The meal will feature garden produce and recipes learned. There will be a presentation of the Luiseno language plant names and usage learned by the youth. RIEC used this successful model as a conclusion to their Language /Art program. The warm recognition that the youth received from the Elders regarding their efforts to learn the Luiseno language reinforced the children's desire to learn more. The next Art/ Language class is eagerly anticipated.
The greatest measure of a successful project is continued community involvement. We will have sign in sheets at the garden site and will report to the Tribal Wellness Garden planning committee on a monthly basis. It is our experience if the community does not feel they are benefiting from a program or project, attendance will quickly drop off. What the youth have learned will be compiled into the presentation to the Elders at the Harvest dinner. This presentation is made by the youth and is a way of thanking and recognizing the Elders for who they are and the time they have taken to teach. The slide presentation will be made available to grantors upon request.