Community Gardens

Home & Garden

First Nations


 Tina Roote & Lori Kewaquom  

Not one, not two, but three community gardens have been planted at Saugeen First Nation.

Lori Kewaquom, Cultural Development Co-ordinator, says that community gardening is a learning process for everyone. "It's a learning process for the entire community," says Kewaquom.

Tina Roote, who has a passion for gardening, carefully planned and designed all three gardens focusing on 'companion planting'. "As every gardener knows," she explains, "each plant takes away and gives back to the soil very specific things and can complement each other."

The three gardens are located at the Health Centre, French Bay Library and the Scotch Settlement Water Tower. "It's really been a partnership," says Kewaquom. "Our Saugeen Roads Department tilled the soil for us, a planting crew turned out to do the planting under Tina's instructions, the Bank Council funded the project and Beagle Run Nurseries donated give currant bushes. When I sent around a notice asking for volunteers to help plant, I was surprised that the majority who offered to help were men. They were terrific."

"This really is an experiment for us too," Kewaquom says. "Each of the gardens is growing in a different type of soil - loam, clay and sandy. So we have a chance to see what plants grow best in what types of soil." Each garden has been planted with things like potatoes, onions, beets, tomatoes, lettuce and even basil.
The two women are hopeful that the entire community will get involved in the maintenance of the gardens. Each Saturday, from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., garden tools will be made available at each location and Roote and Kewaquom will be there to answer questions.

"This is about so much more than gardens," says Kewaquom. "It's about community, encouraging healthy eating, teaching our youth about what the land has to offer and bringing people together in a productive yet social experience."

Roote adds that the whole idea means nothing but benefits for everyone. "Fresh produce is expensive," she says, "and this way the entire community can share in the harvest. Also, everyone wants food that is locally grown and is organic."

"We're hoping this turns into an annual project," Kewaquom points out. "We are going to try all kinds of things related to the gardens. Next year, we hope to also plant a medicinal garden of herbs. We've also had all kinds of suggestions from the community, including teaching canning and preserving, distributing product to the Elders, setting up a produce mini-market, donating to the Food Bank and, of course, holding an annual End-of-Summer Community Feast.

(next column)

15/07/2009 10:15 PM

 Tina Roote with her son Waylon who spends the days with mom in the garden or sleeping nearby

 Health Centre garden is meticulously planted in neat, orderly rows

 French Bay library garden is sandy soil based but doing well

 Scotch Settlement garden lies at the foot of the water tower installed by Kewaquom's husband

for world news, books, sports, movies ...