Blog By: Marissa Analla & Cassie Harden
The Wakanyeja Sacred Little Ones and K’é Family Engagement Initiatives presents Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute “YDI Community Planting Event” held on Tuesday April 28th, 2015 from 4:30-6:00pm. This event took place just west of the SIPI/YDI center in the YDI heritage garden. This event attracted a variety of participants including; teachers from the center, children, families, ECE staff members, and interns. As the YDI parents and children were arriving, they were welcomed and signed in by, student intern, Cassie Harden. The event day weather was beautiful and calm, with a light breeze flowing around us. The sun shined high above making this a perfect day to plant some seeds. The event kicked off at 4:30pm with the children, families, and participants gathering just outside of the heritage garden. YDI parent Donovan Barney came forth with his daughter to speak about the planting event and to say a prayer for the families and garden.
After Donovan’s prayer and blessing of the garden, a SIPI facility staff member gathered the participants near the garden and spoke about the seeds that were going to be planted that day such as the chili, melon, and corn seeds. The chili and melon seeds were donated by staff, and the corn seeds were dried up and kept from last year’s garden within the care of the SIPI 4 preschool classroom. He spoke about the planting of the seeds, in particular the location and proximity of plants to one another. The corn seeds will be in the east rows, the melon seeds in the middle rows, and the chili seeds planted in the west rows. The children from infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and their older siblings began to enter the heritage garden one by one. Families and participants were able to witness the children plant the seeds on this beautiful day. The children planted seeds on their own and with some assistance from family and staff. The first seeds to be planted were the corn seeds, then the melon, and the chili seeds were planted using plastic gloves and a spoon to protect the children’s hands.
SIPI staff assisted each child with a hands-on learning experience of placing the seeds in the child’s hands and having them place them in a small hole within the ground. Then, the child was able move the dirt gently over the seeds, and even some children gently patted the dirt down. One by one each child was able to take turns in planting all of the seeds within the heritage garden. The infants had the assistance of their parent’s to plant the seeds. Through this experience children were able to make the connections of how to plant seeds, how a garden is started, and how food is grown and produced to nourish our bodies. This gave the YDI families the opportunity to be engaged with their children by participating in this event.
After the children planted all of the corn, melon, and chili seeds they were directed with their families to the SIPI Science and Technology Atrium where dinner was served. Dinner was provided by Mexican food from Twisters, and paid for by the Wakanyeja Sacred Little Ones program funding. After the families headed toward the SIPI S&T Atrium, a few parents and teachers stayed behind to begin watering the YDI heritage garden. Staff explained to the parents and teachers about how much water was needed for the heritage garden and the timeframe of days to water the garden throughout the upcoming weeks. This year we are all hoping for a successful garden filled with red chili, melons, and corn. The vegetables and fruits produced from this garden will then be harvested later within the year and given out to the YDI families.
This planting event was another successful learning opportunity for all participants who attended. This gave the young children the enjoyment of planting, and understanding of how agriculture is an important component to Native people. Together we witnessed the children’s motivation and willingness to be part of the planting event. A statement from a family participant was, “I enjoyed myself. The prayer and seeing the kids and the planting made me feel hope, faith and happiness. Knowing our creator wants us to be happy.” This planting event has truly impacted the lives of Native children and families within our SIPI and YDI communities. Thank You Wakanyeja Sacred Little Ones and Ké Family Engagement Initiatives for making this event possible for Native children, families, and community.