Jena Band of Choctaw Indians Community Garden Initiative

Posted by ARRA Funds - OASH on 07/15/2015

The Jena Band of Choctaw Indians (Jena, LA)

Project Leads: Holly VanHoozen and Cheryl Smith 

The Jena Band of Choctaw implemented a policy to provide healthy food at community gatherings. The community already had a community garden, however the grant allowed them to purchase necessary supplies to add to what they were growing. Patient/community education on healthy eating and demonstrations on healthy cooking of fruits and vegetables harvested in our community garden were conducted quarterly. Tribal members took home the produce harvested that they learned how to prepare. The Tribal Maintenance Department prepared the beds for planting, added nutrient rich soil and helped to maintain the gardens. The Tribal Cultural Department conducted the educational component and food demonstrations and incorporated our traditions into classes.

Education of tribal members to promote a desire to change remains important. Providing cooking demonstrations and samples was very important for our community because they needed to learn how to cook with vegetables in a healthy way and they needed to taste it to see that it actually did taste good. Our biggest accomplishment was being able to give away the harvest, especially to the elders. I feel it is very important to share what other communities are doing, to learn what they are having success with and to share in challenges and in solutions for overcoming them.