On Thursday, March 20, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, in partnership with True Food Kitchen, hosted Garden Day to unveil the Community garden at the Lehi Branch in Mesa. Club members and their families were able to participate in various O’odham and Piipaash culturally inspired activities. This event gained media exposure from Good Morning Arizona on Channel 3 and Fox 10 Arizona Morning.
The mission of the Boys and Girls Club Community garden is to “provide children who are members of the Lehi Branch with an understanding of where fruits and vegetables come from, how to care for a garden, and why it’s important to adopt a healthy diet,” said Diane Roberts, senior vice president of development and marketing for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.
“We love this Community and we know that the rich heritage is with the land. We loved being able to help; we had volunteers from the stores, restaurants and from the Boys and Girls Club come together and build. The kids are going to maintain [the garden] because they’re probably better at it (laughs) and they’re here everyday. This is also part of the T.R.A.I.L. (Together Raising Awareness for Indian Life) program, which is a diabetes prevention program combining physical, educational and nutritional activities,” said Laura Skibva, Fox Restaurant Concepts.
To celebrate, the club participants were able to choose from a variety of different activities, which ranged from rock art, face painting and food demonstrations to making bird feeders and designing garden signs in the O’odham and Piipaash languages. Most importantly, children learned how traditional crops were planted, grown and harvested, which is knowledge that can be passed from generation to generation.
“T.R.A.I.L. and the Community Gardens go hand in hand; it is one of our primary cultural programs. This teaches [the children] more of the indigenous aspects of gardening and they can also learn; nutrition, exercise and how to [incorporate] this into their daily lifestyles. This also teaches the concept of what happens when you plant a seed and how it ends up on the table. They learn how that [entire] process occurs,” said Tamara Delmar, area director for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale.
In December, a similar event took place at the Lehi Branch’s Community garden. This garden belongs to the SRPMIC Early Enrichment Program, so children ages 3 and 4 can learn the entire process of preparing and planting a garden. Their parcel measures 40 by 75 feet. An additional 100-by-150-foot Boys and Girls Club garden has been added to the SRPMIC Community Garden, with the help of Community Gardens Coordinator Jacob Butler.
“These gardens are open to Community members who meet certain requirements and to Community programs,” said Butler. “These individuals and programs are responsible to maintain their plots, and we also assist if needed. If the individual or group associated with a garden is doing an exceptional job, their plot can be expanded.”
“What the [Boys and Girls Club] hopes to achieve with [the Community garden] is since the seniors are using the same facilities here at Lehi, when we get an abundance of it and harvest it, we want to give a percentage of it to the seniors. This will also teach the kids how to respect their elders and the kids will also prepare a meal out of the food that is here for the elders as well,” said Delmar.
With reporters from both Good Morning Arizona and Fox 10 Arizona Morning present, the children were excited to be on TV. They showed everyone what crops they harvested and shared them with the visitors in a food demonstration. Reporters and visitors showed interest in visiting this culturally inspired Community garden.
“I always wondered how these types of fences were created,” said Fox 10 anchor and reporter Cory McCloskey, speaking of the O’odham mesquite fences. “One of our programs is really encouraging tribal members and people in general to grow their own food. Agriculture was a very important part of our culture and we’ve gotten away from that in the past couple of generations, so we’re trying to revitalize that,” said Kelly Washington, Cultural Resources Director.
For more information about any of the SRPMIC Community gardens, call Jacob Butler at (480) 362-6334. For more information about the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale Lehi Branch, visit http://lehibranch.bgcs.org or call (480) 850-4453.