Cultural, Health and Educational Benefits:
Cultural Benefits: As Native people, we have always maintained a close connection and understanding of where our food comes from and a fundamental appreciation of Mother Earth as the provider of the life, food and fresh water, which our lives depend on. Many of our ceremonies are connected to the planting and care of seeds and garden plants. Maintaining a school garden allows us a wonderful opportunity to share these values, traditional knowledge, and lifeways with our young people.
Health and Wellness Benefits: Gardens and the “living” food they produce provide enormous health benefits through vital nutrients, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, anti-oxidants, fiber and valuable fats. These nutrients help to maintain proper blood sugar levels, attack and remove free radicals in our bodies that can cause cancer, heart attack, stroke, autoimmune disorders, pre-mature aging, cataract and eye diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and other diseases. Gardens also require movement and physical exercise and provide Vitamin D and other natural healing that comes from our exposure to sun’s light.
Educational Benefits: School gardens provide opportunities to educate young Indian people about:
Energy, resource use, and sciences and math;
Soils and water sustainability and use;
Recycling of soil matter and nutrients;
Maximizing the multiple-use capacity of the landscape and ensuring an efficient energy flow;
Encouraging local production of food; and
Providing a social space for students, teachers, and other community members to share their knowledge, creativity, playfulness and ideas.
Emotional Fitness Benefits: School gardens require cooperation, responsibility, creativity, problem-solving and other skills which our young people need to develop into emotionally balanced individuals. These skills will be further needed as they proceed through life and as they take on responsibilities as a vital and active member of their community. These skills are not learned in a book or by taking a test. These life skills are learned through experiential and cooperative education and interaction. Gardens provide these opportunities. One School, One Garden experiences will allow young people to set goals, identify personal interests and sense of purpose, exercise their own creativity and curiosity, and develop communication skills and appreciation for others. Self-confidence and sense of purpose are some of the most important skills we can instill in our youth and will build a foundation of emotional fitness in our youth that will allow them to carry forward our traditions and culture for the next Seven Generations!