Hibulb’s native gardening class a success

Working with nettles in the Hibulb’s gardening class. photo courtesy Virginia Jones, Hibulb Culture Center
Working with nettles in the Hibulb’s gardening class.
photo courtesy Virginia Jones, Hibulb Culture Center

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

On Sunday, March 15, 2015 the Hibulb Rediscovery Program held a native gardening plant class to give Tulalip tribal members the opportunity to connect with their ancestral roots. This class was coordinated by Rediscovery Program staff members Inez Bill, Joy Lacy and Virginia Jones.

“We were very glad to see the large volume of interest. The class filled up very quickly,” says Virginia Jones. “We are thankful for the interest and wish we could offer it to more people. We are glad that people understand why we need to offer this class to our tribal members. We were anxious to see what kind of turn out we were going to have considering it was pouring down rain, but, despite the terrible weather, we were grateful to have a full class.

“The people got to hear advice about working with plants that has been picked up over the years from different teachers. The group went out and endured the rain. They learned how to harvest, clean, and process stinging nettles. They got to learn some of the uses for stinging nettles and what type of areas to look for them in. It was exciting to see. The class really came together and did the work. After the work was done they shared a light lunch.

“One of the important messages I hope everyone was able to take home is that it’s our responsibility to take care of these plants and the world they live in. It is just like fishing, hunting, clam digging, and berry picking. If we don’t protect their environments then there won’t be any places for us to harvest them from. If we overharvest, then there won’t be enough to sustain themselves. This is something that our people did for thousands of years. Now it is all being threatened by pollutants, new development areas, and people. I think a lot of the older generation can agree that the ‘woods’ just aren’t what they use to be. If we are going to go out and take these living things, then it is also our responsibility to protect them.

“Again, we thank everyone for their interest in the class. We are glad that there are so many people willing to reintroduce these plants back into their lives. These plants are able to provide their body and spirit with so much more than store bought foods.”

For more information about Hibulb Cultural Center events visit www.hibulbculturalcenter.org

Tulalip clinic dispensing gardening advice for better diets

Tulalip clinic gets patients growing veggies, herbs

Mark Mulligan / The HeraldSandy Swanson, a licensed practical nurse at the Tulalip Health Clinic, waters plants in the new garden outside of the clinic on June 16. Swanson works in the elder care program, and when she gets a chance will duck outside to work in the garden. "It makes me smile to come out here and care for these plants," said Swanson.
Mark Mulligan / The Herald
Sandy Swanson, a licensed practical nurse at the Tulalip Health Clinic, waters plants in the new garden outside of the clinic on June 16. Swanson works in the elder care program, and when she gets a chance will duck outside to work in the garden. “It makes me smile to come out here and care for these plants,” said Swanson.

By Bill Sheets, The Herald

TULALIP — When a doctor at the Tulalip tribal health clinic advises a patient to eat healthier food, it doesn’t have to be only words that are heard or written down on paper.

The doctor can take the patient right outside the building and show them that they can grow that food for themselves.

A small, rudimentary vegetable garden at the Tulalip Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic was greatly expanded this year with several new raised wooden beds. Leeks, kale, squash, cucumbers, peas, tomatoes and more are thriving in their southwestern exposure to the summer sun over Tulalip Bay.

Culinary and medicinal herbs and plants are being grown as well — parsley, tarragon, basil, lavender and rose hips, to name a few.

“It’s about engaging with our patients,” said Bryan Cooper, clinical lead at the health center. “Instead of telling them what to do, it’s ‘Let’s work together.'”

The incidence of diabetes on the reservation is high, and the garden is especially geared toward helping diabetics manage their condition through their diet.

Doctors and staff members from the lab and pharmacy have been accompanying patients to the garden to discuss the possibilities, said Roni Leahy, diabetes coordinator at the clinic.

Planting soil, tubs, gardening materials and advice have been dispensed on special-event days at the clinic, such as a recent “Diabetes Day.”

The garden is an extension of a program established two years ago with the opening of the Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve a few miles away, Cooper said.

In one program there, young people have been taught traditional ways of harvesting and processing native medicinal plants. In another, titled “Gardening Together as Families,” a popular community vegetable garden was established.

At the clinic, the idea was to build on the success of the Hibulb programs and create a direct link between the medical facility and healthy diets, staff members said.

The late Hank Gobin, the tribes’ cultural director who helped establish the Hibulb programs, was motivated to improve tribal members’ diets in part because he himself was a diabetic. He passed away in April at age 71.

“It’s always about people and their health and well-being,” Leahy said. “That’s how we keep his memory alive.”

The clinic garden has been maintained by staff members and volunteers. At the end of the season, the food will be used at tribal events, Leahy said.

Sandra Swanson, 73, a career nurse, works full time in the clinic’s elder care program.

“Then I come out here and play,” she said, as she dug in one of the planters.

The plan is to expand the garden next year to a nearby slope facing the bay, with terraces and a trail, Cooper said.

More volunteers are needed, staff members said.

“We want to start these (gardens) and get them to a place where the community takes over,” Cooper said.

Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439; sheets@heraldnet.com.

Health fair

A health fair and blood drive is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday at the Tulalip Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic, 7520 Totem Beach Road.

For more information call 360-716-4511.

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.


Garden Revival


snip n drip photo

By Melinda Myers

Spring floods, summer droughts and temperature extremes take their toll on gardens and the gardeners who tend them. Help your gardens recover from the crazy temperature and moisture extremes that seem to occur each year.

Start by assessing the current condition of your landscape.  Remove dead plants as soon as possible.  They can harbor insect and disease organisms that can infest your healthy plantings.  Consider replacing struggling plants with healthy plants better suited to the space, growing conditions and landscape design.  You often achieve better results in less time by starting over rather than trying to nurse a sick plant back to health.

As always, select plants suited to the growing environment and that includes normal rainfall.  Every season is different, but selecting plants suited to the average conditions will minimize the care needed and increase your odds for success.  Roses, coneflowers, sedums and zinnias are just a few drought tolerant plants.  Elderberry, ligularia, Siberian iris and marsh marigold are a few moisture tolerant plants.

Be prepared for worse case scenario.  Install an irrigation system, such as the Snip-n-drip soaker system, in the garden.  It allows you to apply water directly to the soil alongside plants.  This means less water wasted to evaporation, wind and overhead watering.  You’ll also reduce the risk of disease by keeping water off the plant leaves.

A properly installed and managed irrigation system will help save water.  The convenience makes it easy to water thoroughly, encouraging deep roots, and only when needed.  Turn the system on early in the day while you tend to other gardening and household chores.  You’ll waste less water to evaporation and save time since the system does the watering for you.

Capture rainwater and use it to water container and in-ground gardens.  Rain barrels and cisterns have long been used for this purpose and are experiencing renewed interest. Look for these features when buying or making your own rain barrel. Make sure the spigot is located close to the bottom so less water collects and stagnates. Select one that has a screen over the opening to keep out debris.  And look for an overflow that directs the water into another barrel or away from the house.

Add a bit of paint to turn your rain barrel into a piece of art.  Or tuck it behind some containers, shrubs or a decorative trellis.  Just make sure it is easy to access.

Be sure to mulch trees and shrubs with shredded bark or woodchips to conserve moisture, suppress weeds and reduce competition from nearby grass.  You’ll eliminate hand trimming while protecting trunks and stems from damaging weed whips and mowers.

Invigorate weather worn perennials with compost and an auger bit.  Spread an inch of compost over the soil surface.  Then use an auger bit, often used for planting bulbs, and drill the compost into the soil in open areas throughout the garden.  You’ll help move the compost to the root zone of the plants and aerate the soil with this one activity.

A little advance planning and preparation can reduce your workload and increase your gardening enjoyment.

Gardening expert, TV/radio host, author & columnist Melinda Myers has more than 30 years of horticulture experience and has written over 20 gardening books, including Can’t Miss Small Space Gardening. She hosts the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV and radio segments and is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine. Myers web site is www.melindamyers.com