Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute’s (SIPI) Restorative Teachings team gathered for our annual “Community Planting Event.” Every April for the past couple of years SIPI’s preschool children have planted corn, melons, and chile peppers. This event involves children, families, and staff members of both SIPI and the Youth Development Incorporated (YDI) Head Start. Our children at YDI come from very diverse tribal and non-tribal backgrounds but all share the common knowledge of planting. The children are always very excited to plant and help maintain the garden. They all have tricks of how to plant and care for their garden. Since April we have nurtured the crops. The preschool teacher Vibeka Mitchell goes out with the class and waters the garden. The children help move the hose around and sometimes help pull weeds.
On the day of the planting event, we all met at the heritage garden outside of the preschool. Two of the parents, Alyssa Yeppa and Jordan Shendo, assisted with the kick-off of the planting event, tilling and preparing the soil. We then received a welcome by Dr. Danielle Lansing, Restorative Teachings Project Director. She spoke about the background of the garden and her hopes for it. Jordan then spoke about the garden and the seeds provided. Each child at the event took turns planting their choice of melon or chile. Jordan and other parents, such as Samuel J. Smith III, assisted the children and guided them with the planting. Every child and parent got a chance to plant corn.
After the planting event, we walked to the Science and Technology building for an appreciation dinner for participants. All participants received a new Restorative Teachings t-shirt. Since then we have had two garden clean-up events. Several fathers helped clean around the garden. They all shared their appreciation for the knowledge their children are gaining. They all shared stories of their ancestors and how they maintained their gardens. Whether it is watering or pulling weeds; our garden is growing very beautifully and it is nice to see the parents helping. The garden brings us together as a community and helps us see the importance of growing our own food.
By Crystal Barney, SIPI Early Childhood Education Student, Restorative Teaching Intern