After a wet summer and three different floods to the grounds at the Eagle Aviary, the CPN Community Garden is now fully back to normal production. The only plant to survive the torrential rainfall was the okra, which is aptly named, “three flood okra.” Now the garden is abundant with an array of fall produce including squash, pumpkins and peppers.
“The garden had some setbacks during the summer and almost everything washed out,” said CPN Cultural Heritage Center Director Kelli Mosteller, Ph.D. “We planted the garden late this season and planted everything from seed. Our idea was to stick with plants that would last through the first frost such as squash and pumpkins because weather can unexpectedly be harsh in Oklahoma. However, we also planted vegetables that can be harvested on a regular basis like Swiss chard, butter lettuce and other leafy greens that grow plentiful.”
The CPN Community Garden didn’t have a wide variety of plants this season, but what was planted did well. The food harvested goes to the volunteers who tend the garden and gets passed out to different departments including the Title VI program for the daily elder lunch.
“Whether its tribal youth or elders out there, the main goal is to bring everyone together and share time with each other outdoors,” said Mosteller. “The main purpose of the garden is community, but secondly it’s a way for us to talk about foods that serves as a cultural culinary learning experience for everyone.”
Mosteller and other community garden organizers have big plans for the spring garden. Over the winter the garden will be plowed and covered up to help keep nutrients in the soil. Garden volunteers are hoping to expand the garden with a section dedicated to wild berries. Along with that the group is researching different vegetation to plant for butterflies and bees. The CPN Office of Environmental Health is planning to make different culverts around the garden to create a path for the rain water to drain away from it to avoid flooding in the future.
Volunteers meet each Wednesday from 4 – 6 p.m. to harvest and tend the garden. For more information search for their Facebook page, Gtegemen: CPN Community Garden.