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A child holds her soon-to-be Plant Person as she prepares to put soil and seeds into the pot.

Want to Grow With Us? WIC Program Starts Community Garden

Community Health Educator Vurlene Notsinneh-Bowekaty, nutrition specialist Jamie Schurz and outreach specialist Michelle Schurz, all from the Prevention and Intervention program of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Health and Human Services division, hosted a Community garden planning meeting in January.

The garden is for participants of the WIC (Women Infant Child) program, operated through funds from a five-year grant under the Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country Program. Participants will learn to take care of the garden, benefit from what they grow, and continue the skills they learn at home.

The garden will be located on the west side of the WIC office, or Building No. 15. With the help of the SRPMIC Cultural Resources Department (CRD), program staff discussed cultural strategies and which native fruits and vegetables can be grown in the garden.

The group also discussed who will maintain the garden (water and pull weeds) after it gets going. The garden will have four beds to grow traditional foods, vegetables, and flowers to attract bees for the plants.

The WIC program talked about starting a garden years ago at the old WIC building, but then staff was told they were being moved to another facility, so that garden never happened. Now that the program is settled in its new facility, the garden plan can continue.

All WIC participants may be involved with the garden. “Help us start a Community garden for the families, and let’s grow together!” said Notsinneh-Bowekaty.

Seeding will take place this month and in March; the garden supplies already have been purchased.

During the meeting, families took time to do a small project: create “plant people,” drawing a face on a small pot provided by CRD and then filling it with soil and chia seeds. With daily watering, soon the pot will grow what looks like hair to match the face on the pot.

Staff also took time to ask participants how they envisioned the garden and what they wanted to grow in the garden. Having the WIC participants help with the garden will encourage exercise and healthy eating to fight obesity, diabetes, heart disease and disability.

For more information on the WIC garden, contact Notsinneh-Bowekaty at (480) 362-7300.