After the winter break is over in January, the students in Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community’s Early Enrichment Program (EEP) will be planting their very first garden. The EEP students are young Community members ages three to five.
The garden will be located in Lehi, north of the Lehi Community Center. Jacob Butler, Community garden coordinator with the SRPMIC Cultural Resources Department, has worked with the children to introduce them to gardens, teach them how to plant seeds using a stick and other tools, and show them how to keep up the garden and keep it clean. Butler incorporated O’odham vocabulary words into the lesson.
On December 18, the youth traveled to Lehi to visit the site of the garden, where they walked around to get familiar with the area and removed rocks and sticks that could hinder plants from growing.
The youth gardening program, offered through the Youth Services Department, is designed to help young children learn about gardening and help them develop skills in planning and coordination of tasks. They also learn respect at an early age toward others and toward the environment. Also, the program teaches the youth about their cultural and traditional values.
“We appreciate the partnership with the Cultural Resources and Preservation Program and “Garden Guy Jacob,” as we make strides to restore cultural values beginning with our youth,” said Tori Paukgana EEP Specialist.
Next to the EEP garden will be a garden by the children in the Boys & Girls Club, which will be planted around the same time.