CPN’s first community garden was planted in 2014. Tending it has become an annual activity that many elders, tribal members and employees take part in. Not only do they get fresh fruits and vegetables, but the time in the garden together allows them to talk about Potawatomi traditions and foods. With the winter season coming to an end, many of the regulars are planning and preparing this year’s spring garden.
“As of right now we are working on two grants to fund infrastructure expansion for the spring 2016 garden,” said CPN Cultural Heritage Center Director Kelli Mosteller, Ph.D.
The community garden is located in the southwest corner of the CPN Eagle Aviary as it was last year.
“Our first garden was on a small plot behind the golf course, but we quickly realized that was not the best location for a long-term project. We knew we needed to find a place that was easier to access, closer to a source of water, more secure for all of the tools and equipment we needed to store,” said Mosteller. “We also wanted to put the garden in a place that would allow us to talk about cultural teachings beyond the garden and native food ways, so the aviary seemed the perfect fit.”
Along with the location, it was decided to plant traditional Potawatomi foods along with ones that would grow well in Oklahoma. Now that CPN has a greenhouse, many of those foods will be seeded inside and planted after the last frost, which is generally in March.
“Some items might not be considered traditional Potawatomi or Great Lakes foods, like peppers, lettuces, okra, and tomatoes,” said Mosteller. “However, there will be a Three Sisters portion of the garden where we will grow corn, beans, and squash. We are also planting several varieties of berries, including strawberries and blackberries.”
Although CPN employees manage the planning phase of the community garden, there will be a need for volunteers once the planting phase begins.
“We rely on tribal members, employees, elders and youth who are active in programs sponsored by the tribe to help with planting, harvesting, and general maintenance, like weeding, said Mosteller. “It really is a community garden, so all are invited to help.”
As soon as planting begins, there will be a set schedule for work and harvest days posted and made public. On those days anyone is free to come and gather what vegetables and fruits they would like to take home. For more information please visit their Facebook page, Gtegemen: CPN Community Garden at cpn.news/garden.