Da-gwa-le-la A-wi-sv-nv (Garden Wagon): Putting Prevention to Work Through Community Gardens

Posted by ARRA Funds - OASH on 06/29/2015

The Center for Cherokee Plants (Cherokee, NC)

Project Leads: Kevin Welch and Sarah McClellan-Welch

Our Garden Wagon is a traveling teaching tool used to educate community members on how to garden and to utilize traditional garden methods to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. The goal of our project was to change the work and learning environment for agriculture by improving outreach. The project purchased a garden wagon, which is a mobile class room - an enclosed trailer with teaching supplies, arts and crafts, gardening tools, chairs for elders, and tables that lower to children’s height.

The Garden Wagon allows the Center for Cherokee Plants to take gardening classes out into the community, rather than holding them in one central location. For example, the Healthy Halloween Fair at our immersion school. The Garden Wagon was loaded up with fall vegetables, which they took to PreK-2nd grade to provide hands-on activities to learn about traditional crops and varieties. The garden wagon makes this work simpler, easier, more relaxing, and definitely more productive.

The Garden Wagon allows the Center for Cherokee Plants to take gardening classes out into the community, rather than holding them in one central location. This allows many more Cherokee People to participate and become involved in home & community gardening. The Garden Wagon has been utilized at eight different large community events, allowing us to reach over 700 Cherokee people with our agriculture education in just one year. This tool greatly assisted staff by making our work so much easier than in the past because we were able to carry supplies and teachings with us and did not have to depend on community members coming to us. We were able to go to them, which greatly increased our reach.

We have received overwhelming support in the form of positive comments from teachers, gardeners, volunteers, youths, teens and other community members about the Garden Wagon.

Participants really enjoy it, think it’s cool. It has a big “wow” factor. Our Tribal Administration supports the project and has provided a Police Department vehicle to haul it after this grant year ends. The garden wagon is a permanent addition to our resources. A lesson learned from this project was: Work smarter! Use grants to boost what you are already doing - don't try to start something new.