Written By: Shakotah Billie
This summer I planted three gardens. I wanted to focus on the spiral garden. So the reason I chose to do a spiral garden is because that is what our ancestors used this technique on a daily basis and we do not use it as much nowadays. My main goal was to teach the kids and the community about how spiral gardens are useful and why they did that way. We used all indigenous seeds. We special ordered the seeds from Native Seeds SEARCH. This lets us know that it was a true indigenous seed, this organization finds, protects, and preserves seeds of the southwest.
We were lucky enough to collaborate with Thanksgiving Point to have a spot to put in our garden. We had a nice 25X25 spot in the middle of farm country to let it grow. We started out by blessing the area we planted the spiral garden. Then we had families help plant the garden. All the kids had fun putting the seeds in the ground. I thought it was crazy that we planted everything from seed and to watch it grow and how big it got in the end. Every week we would weed and water the garden. Taking families up to learn why you weed and to show that the plants need water every day to grow. Teaching the kids and families how to do their own gardens, especially right now during COVID pandemic.
The reason we do a spiral is because it has its own irrigation system. When it rains it's the top of the spiral and rolls down to the rest of the plants. We had the three sisters (bean, corn and squash) in the middle because that is one of the most known groups of plants that work best and the story behind it. The concept of companion planting, in which one plant helps the other, the corn to serve as poles for beans, and interplanting this with squash to keep down invasive weeds We had signage around the garden to explain to the people who were just visiting farm country. I was so happy we got to share our culture with everyone.
We had the opportunity to go every month and give presentations on the garden to visitors at Thanksgiving Point Farm Country. Telling people what plants we used and what we used them for. I loved to see how many people were interested in learning more about our culture. In the fall months for the harvesting season, we went to the garden and started harvesting the plants so we could make the dyes for our rugs and we let the family take home the produce we had in the garden. Thanking them all for helping make this part of my dream come true. I learned about the plants I didn't even know existed and how so many natural things you could use instead of man-made medicines. Nebo students learned that it's hard work to grow a garden and in the end, it is very rewarding with all the food you produce yourself. Overall I know this was a great experience for all the kids and my Native American community. It really showed how much support we have but not only in the native community. I am very happy to see the state I live in and how helpful everyone is and the support they give to me. They recognize we all can make a difference and it all starts with one act of kindness and the chain always continues.