If starting up a garden is on your spring to-do list, you’re in luck. The Little Colorado River Watershed Chapters Association (LCRWCA) will be hosting gardening workshops throughout the Navajo Nation for the month of April to help residents set up personal and community gardens.
Eight workshops at various chapters will be hosted by Jonathan Yazzie who is a board member of Tó Łání Enterprises and a consultant for LCRWCA. These include an introduction to basic gardening skills, instruction on how to address soil problems, and a gardening demonstration.
Yazzie, who is from Sand Springs and grew up farming with his father, stated that for him the main goal is to help create healthy communities. He mentioned this is especially important for the Navajo Nation since many residents live in rural food deserts, where access to healthy foods is often limited by geography and price.
“It’s for health and fitness,” Yazzie said. “It prevents diabetes and connects food to people on the reservation.”
Health and wellness are not the only focus of the workshops. Yazzie also mentioned that creating a connection between people and culture is a necessary part of gardening
“We also try to squeeze in traditional culture where possible. There’s stories behind [gardening]. A lot of our people don’t know the stories so we try to provide that teaching.”
So far, the workshops has piqued the interest of people around the Navajo Nation. Digital flyers have been shared multiple times on social media and attendance to chapter workshops has been slowly growing.
Dilkon resident Lesia Spencer attended an April 11 workshop held in Teesto. She stated that when she and her special needs daughter returned to the reservation in 2012 after spending 30 years in Phoenix, one of her main goals was to set up a small garden.
“I’ve been gardening for awhile now,” Spencer said. “It helps me to provide foods for my family that are organic and also to store some for later through canning, dehydrating. You can’t get any better than homegrown. And I get my exercise, too!”
She added that when she first heard about the workshop, she was excited to learn different methods that the LCRWCA used in their gardens.
“I heard they made [a type of greenhouse called] hoop houses and rainwater catchment systems for irrigating the garden. Those two things were the main reason I wanted to go.”
She didn’t leave disappointed. After the workshop, she left with a cup of worms to create more nutritious soil and some seeds, as well as ideas for harvesting rainwater.
Events have been hosted at chapter houses in Tolani Lake, Teesto, and Hard Rock. Other workshops are planned for White Cone (April 18), Tse Si Ani (April 20), Bird Springs (April 22), Indian Wells (April 25), and Coalmine (April 27). All workshops are held at the local chapter houses at 10 a.m. DST.
For more information about the workshops and other events, visit the LCRWCA Facebook page.