Tulalip health clinic offers diabetes-cooking class

Photo/Micheal Rios

Garlic stalks were harvested from the Wellness Garden and used to create herbal garlic braids for home cooking.


by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On Thursday, July 16, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. the staff of the Tulalip’s Diabetes Care and Prevention Program hosted a diabetes cooking class. The purpose of this class was to learn and talk about the health benefits associated with garlic, onions and sugar free, wild berry jams. To make the class an enjoyable, hands-on learning experience, the participants did some gardening in order to create practical applications for the harvested foods with the assistance of the Wisdom Warriors and some community youngsters.

“Our garlic and onion crops were substantial this year, so we decided to offer a class structured around the harvest,” describes Veronica “Roni” Leahy, Diabetes Program Coordinator, of the bountiful produce found in the Wellness Garden, located behind the Tulalip health clinic. “Garlic is low in calories and very rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese. For this reason, garlic is known to boost the function of the immune system and reduce the severity of common illnesses, like the flu and common cold. Other health benefits include relieving arthritic pain and assisting in lowering blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.”



Garlic is a wonderful seasoning to add aroma, taste and added nutrition to your dishes. To make use of its multi-purpose value, class participants were shown how to harvest the garlic, along with other herbs, from the Wellness Garden and then used them to make garlic braids. Braiding the garlic with herbs allows the garlic sufficient time to dry and be readily used at home in a variety of meals.

Around midday, the class took a timeout in order to relish on a healthy lunch of pita bread sandwiches, some smoked salmon compliments of Marvin Jones, and a bounty of fruits and vegetables while enjoying the 80-degree weather and sunshine.

Following the lunch break, the class participated in making sugar free, wild berry jam mixed with chia seeds. Many people are familiar with local berries, but not so familiar with chia seeds. The combination of protein, fiber, and the gelling action of chia seeds when mixed with liquids all contribute to their easy to use benefits.




“Chia seeds, like flaxseeds, are very high in omega 3 fatty acids, and they contain no gluten or grains for those who are on a gluten free diet,” explains Leahy. “Because of their high fiber content, chia seeds have the added health benefits of helping to reduce inflammation, enhancing cognitive performance, and lowering high cholesterol. Also, adding chia seeds to smoothies or yogurt can give people the feeling of being full and satisfied, which helps lower food cravings between meals.”

The joys of gardening can reap great benefits, from tasty, healthy vegetables to just enjoying the outdoors. Pride in cooking with food you helped to grow and harvest counts also. Combine these benefits with proper nutritional education and you have an enjoyable experience that can last a lifetime. For those who missed on this session, there will be future gardening and cooking classes offered. Keep a look out in future articles or ‘like’ our Tulalip News facebook page to stay in the loop.




All photos by Micheal Rios

Contact Micheal Rios, mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov

Tulalip Bay Wellness Garden and Trail, bringing practical application to diabetes program




by Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

When it comes to diabetes, Native Americans are clearly at greater risk compared to non-Natives. The incidence and prevalence of diabetes within the Native community have increased dramatically as traditional lifestyles have been abandoned in favor of westernization, with accompanying increases in body weight and diminished physical activity. Consider these sobering statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Indian Health Service:

2.2 times higher – likelihood of Native Americans to have diabetes compared to non-Hispanic whites.

68% – percent increase in diabetes from 1994 to 2004 in Native American youth aged 15-19 years.

95% – percent of Native Americans with diabetes who have type 2 diabetes.

30% – estimated percent of Native Americans who have pre-diabetes.*

The extent of diabetes in Native communities today demands public health programs that incorporate specific cultural adaptations for individual tribes. Enter the Tulalip Health Clinic’s Diabetes Program and its ‘grow your own fruits, vegetables & edible flowers’ campaign.

In the spring of 2013, Veronica “Roni” Leahy, Diabetes Program Coordinator, embarked on a mission to bring practical application of diabetes prevention into the everyday lives of Tulalip tribal members by creating a Tulalip Bay wellness garden and trail.


Tribal employees volunteer their time to plant apple trees.photo/Micheal Rios
Tribal employees volunteer their time to plant apple trees.
photo/Micheal Rios


“Our goal for this garden is diabetes prevention,” explains Leahy. “One of the ways you fight diabetes is good nutrition and exercise. We have a vegetable garden which supports good nutrition and a wellness trail for our exercise. It’s practical application. We offer natural foods you can grow. We have berries, like gooseberries, huckleberries and raspberries. We have fruits, like Oregon grape, apples and pears. Plus, we are growing edible flowers as well.

“Our plan here is to have as much community involvement as possible in creating this space. We have elders who have been a huge part of this project from the very beginning. We’ll continue to focus on the elders and community as we further develop this area. That’s why we call it ‘grow your own fruits and vegetables.’”

Volunteer elders work hard almost every day in creating new additions to the health clinic gardens. Tulalip elder Sandy Swanson is one of those dedicated volunteers.

“I’m out here every day because I enjoy gardening. I worked with Roni on this project since it first started at Hibulb Cultural Center,” says Swanson. “I worked there in the greenhouse and garden beds for two or three years. So when we started down here, I thought this would be good because it’s closer to my home and work at the Health Clinic. I was a nurse for 50 years and just retired last year. I’m 75 now so I putter around here and water and plant and help keep this area clean. I come down and help plant the peas and apple trees.


New garden boxes have been established for the various fruits and vegetables. Photo/Micheal Rios
New garden boxes have been established for the various fruits and vegetables.
Photo/Micheal Rios


“This garden is for the people so anyone can come help out and be a part of this. People come and work with us on these gardens, we’d like to have more people, but many work so we understand. The main theme is to be able to teach about healthy home-grown fruits and vegetables where they are safe to eat, store stuff is so processed and shined up with chemicals. You have to wash all your fruits and vegetables from the stores these days.”The Tulalip Health Clinic’s Diabetes Program is determined to teach the tribal membership how to live a healthy lifestyle that minimizes the risk of diabetes and welcomes any and all community volunteers to become a part of the wellness garden. The next ‘grow your own fruits and vegetables’ event with be on Friday, May 29 from 9:00a.m. – 3:00p.m. at the Tulalip Bay wellness garden and trail, located on the west side ofthe Tulalip Health Clinic.


View of the Wellness Trail as it leads to the garden. photo/Micheal Rios
View of the Wellness Trail as it leads to the garden.
photo/Micheal Rios


For more information about the Diabetes Program, the wellness garden, or opportunities for volunteerism please contact Roni Leahy at vleahy@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov or 360-716-5642.


*source: diabetes.org


Contact Micheal Rios, mrios@tulaliptribes-nsn.gov















Chickasaw Nation’s Community Garden Serves as Outdoor Classroom

Ten-year-old Sean Higdon, Ada, checks out a caterpillar at the Chickasaw Nation Community Gardens during Environmental Camp.
Ten-year-old Sean Higdon, Ada, checks out a caterpillar at the Chickasaw Nation Community Gardens during Environmental Camp.

Chickasaw Nation Media

Ten-year-old Sean Higdon is well-versed in plants and compost and can even name a few beneficial insects, thanks to Chickasaw Nation Environmental Camp.

Strolling among the raised beds of onions, peppers, beans and other crops on a sunny Friday morning at the Chickasaw Nation Community Gardens, Sean and 27 other students paused to pick ripe strawberries and examine a caterpillar.

“This caterpillar is not a bad one, because he is fuzzy,” Sean explained.

Sean, of Ada, credits time spent at the unique camp for introducing him to such concepts as mulch, water conservation, gardening and natural pest control.

Designed to enlighten 8-12 year olds about the world around them, Environmental Camp offers behind-the-scenes tours of facilities, including a municipal water treatment plant, waste water treatment plant, and community gardens, where the group learned about hydroponics, compost and how the facility uses ladybugs for pest control.

Lesson about compost and how it benefits the soil made an impact on the young lives.

“This right here feels like my own garden,” said the spunky fourth grader, as he surveyed the community gardens, located southeast of Ada.

The Community Gardens is Sean’s garden– as well as all Chickasaw citizens.

The Community Garden Program is a part of the Chickasaw Nation horticulture department, and is dedicated to improving the quality of life of all Chickasaws by providing the tools and training to ensure Chickasaw people have the opportunity to attain healthy and nutritious vegetables.

Workers strive daily to fulfill the mission statement of “renewing the connection between our people and the earth.”

Crops such as corn, lettuce, onions, tomatoes and watermelon from the Community Gardens are consumed in the near-by Chickasaw Medical Center and the Cultural Center Café in Sulphur.

Thousands of tomato, squash and pepper plants are given to Chickasaw elders each spring and the general public can purchase vegetables and vegetable plants at local Farmer’s Markets during the summer months.

Shrubs and flowers grown at the gardens are available to Chickasaw homeowners and are used in landscaping at Chickasaw facilities.

Community Gardens, as well as Environmental Camp, reflects the mission of this year’s June 5 World Environmental Day observance, with objectives of teaching self-sustaining, earth- friendly concepts to young people.

The theme for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations is: Think. Eat. Save.

This campaign discourages food waste and food loss, encourages people to reduce their “foodprint” and to become more aware of the environmental impact of food choices. By purposefully choosing organic foods grown with pesticides and locally grown foods can decrease the use of dangerous chemicals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

World Environment Day celebration began in 1972 and has grown to become one of the main vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.

Every year 1.3 billion tons of food is wasted, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.

Also, one in every seven people worldwide go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of five die from hunger every day.

About World Environmental Day

Through World Environment Day, the United Nations Environment Program is able to personalize environmental issues and enable everyone to realize not only their responsibility, but also their power to become agents for change in support of sustainable and equitable development.

World Environment Day is also a day to remind people from all walks of life of the need to come together to ensure a cleaner, greener and brighter outlook for themselves and future generations.


Sorticulture, Everett’s Garden Arts Festival

Sorticulture, Everett’s Garden Arts Festival

2013 festival June 7, 8 and 9

Legion Memorial Park

145 Alverson Blvd. at W. Marine View Dr.

Everett, Washington 98201


Sorticulture hours:

Fri: 10 am – 8 pm

Sat: 10 am – 6 pm

Sun: 10 am – 4 pm


Please park at Everett Community College’s North Broadway
parking lot
and take the bus that runs every 15-20 minutes.
Regular fares apply. You can return to the park with your car
to pick up purchases.

Dogs are allowed on leashes

Sorticulture unites art and the garden in a celebration of creative outdoor living. Our featured artists create distinctive hand-crafted garden art and our nurseries produce a wide variety of plants to transform your backyard. Learn tips and tricks from top regional gardening experts including KING 5’s Ciscoe Morris. Sorticulture also features display gardens, food fair, wine garden, live music and free activities for the kids.


Celebration of Food Festival May 19

LYNNWOOD – The second annual Celebration of Food Festival takes place Sunday, May 19, offering the public an event to taste, explore, and experience real food from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Lynnwood Convention Center. Free samples, demonstrations, displays and more will be available, as well as activities by farm and garden professionals. This event showcases how to grow, where to purchase or how to prepare/preserve real food. Resources include experts, displays, books, and items available for children and adults. Vendors representing farming, edible plant production, food preparation, and farmers markets will be on hand. For more information, contact Festival Coordinator Chris Hudyma at chudyma@edcc.edu.