by Christine George

LADYBUG GARDEN AND GREENHOUSE is in its ninth year, growing fresh, affordable foods for our T’Sou-ke Nation community. We grow a variety of vegetables at the gardens. Indigenous plants are gathered and brought to the gardens to adapt and be reintroduced to our Membership. We also promote medicinal teas, including how to administer and store them.

This 2016/17 Year in Review describes what we do best: from growing and preserving foods to teaching respect for our lands and the foods we harvest from it.

Photos: Cristine George

WUI, CIST CEN, TOL – OUR YEAR IN REVIEW

Ladybug Garden and Greenhouse supplied fresh fruits, berries, and produce for our weekly cultural gatherings, community luncheons, and for our community cooks and their Meals on Wheels program. Many community members, including Youth and Elders, participated in these gatherings.

We organized hikes and gatherings to promote exercise and a healthy lifestyle and improve self-esteem. Members of all ages, from two-and-a-half to 84 years, joined our outings. These gatherings took us to our Sacred Mountains up to the San Juan Ridge and down to our SIAOSUN beaches on our #2 Reserve.

We also had “workbee sessions” to create beds of food and clean grounds in the ideal areas for growing, with Youth as young as one-and-a-half to two years. Our Youth engage fully and passionately when they help and build beds at our gardens, something that comes naturally to them. Everyone always has a chore to do when we have our workbees.

We travelled to public schools to teach Indigenous students about our products so that they can serve and describe our teas at school events. We distributed our teas to members at our mini-wellness days.

We led guided hikes through our Traditional Territories to identify Indigenous plants and learn about their traditional uses and the importance of their survival. We taught the history and identified culturally modified trees and Cairns. We used our Traditional Territories as our “natural classroom and created booklets about the food we would gather to promote teachings of our SENĆOŦEN language.

COOL COOKS PROGRAM

We held the Cool Cooks Program during August. Day One was a kitchen basics orientation with dos and don’ts. On Day Two, we visited our community garden to learn gardening basics, from seeding to harvest, then gathered foods to cook for the participants’ families. Day Three, we travelled to our Traditional Territories to gather medicinal teas and alpine fruits, including three varieties of blueberries, Labrador tea, and red huckleberries for jams. On Day Four, we created jams and berry cobbler, tasted teas, and fried bannock for the students to take home to their families.

The Youth learned how to prepare meals such as grilled cheese sandwiches, salads with fresh picked greens from our gardens, homemade trail mix from gathered berries, mac and cheese from scratch, jams, berry cobbler, bannock, and salmon and Indian tacos.

SEAFOOD GATHERINGS

We held Seafood Gatherings and taught traditional methods of catching and gathering seafood such as crabs. We raked where you walk on our beaches at extremely low tide. Then, we walked out to the eelgrass beds to grab the crabs by hand. We dug clams like Manilas, littlenecks, and butters, and gathered mussels, rock stickers, gooseneck barnacles, sea urchins, limpets, and the occasional octopus.

We then demonstrated how to prepare food on the beach, cooking salmon on cedar sticks over an open fire and steaming the freshly harvested seafood. We only gather what we will eat so that nothing is wasted. We practice our Culture at these events by smudging before everyone heads out to gather foods. We offer prayers before lunch and always have a special Blessing by the Sea with our Elders using water collected from all parts of the world.

MEMBER GARDENS

We provide garden areas for members to grow their own food. First-timers often plant a few items in their plots to learn about gardening and whether they are able to do the work required. Some members need to look after their children or can’t find the time to tend their gardens due to other challenges. We will need to address these barriers for our members to grow some of their own food.

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OUR YOUTH RESPECT what we provide for them. Some have participated for nine years or more, coming on all of our outings with us. We can safely allow some of these Youth to take guests out to demonstrate what we have taught them—and bring our lessons full circle gives us a very satisfied feeling, knowing that we have been successful with our teachings.

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