Expanding Community Wellness Garden and Recreation Complex

Expanding Community Wellness Garden & Recreation Complex

Awardee: Indian Child and Family Preservation Program (ICFPP) 
Location: Santa Rosa, CA

About the Indian Child and Family Preservation Program

The Indian Child and Family Preservation Program (ICFPP) is an all Indian Tribal non-profit corporation and a consortium of tribes formed to provide Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) advocacy and a comprehensive array of other services, which include but are not limited to: recruiting Indian foster homes, conducting supervised visitations, and providing cultural outreach activities. 

About the Project

Project Goal:

By establishing a community wellness garden and creating a recreation complex, we are able to offer different activities for different abilities for the entire family. We believe that engaging the entire family in becoming physically active and acquiring healthy eating habits is what creates a crucial multi-generational link around the power of healthy lifestyles.

Opportunities Communities Face

  • Our communities know that we struggle with various health conditions, but we also know that it takes money to develop a master plan and build infrastructure
  • It takes land, water, time, dedication, and confidence in developing community gardens because it requires ongoing efforts to sustain and maintain the work
  • Many avenues to encourage healthy eating and active living, however, we chose to reclaim our land and educate our youth about stewardship and truly becoming self-sufficient by growing our own food and medicinals

Adapting the CDC Winnable Battles to Our Nation's Needs

We met with community leaders, partners, volunteers, gardeners, and elders to incorporate indigenous plants, crops, and medicinals into garden design, function, and purpose.  Traditional basket materials and herbs were planted to aid in providing more education and access to holistic and traditional healing agents.  We hosted two community cultural events in our community garden.  The first event, “Honoring Our Youth Luncheon” included a dialogue on wellness and suicide prevention along with garden tours and recruiting community volunteers.  The second event had hands-on activities making medicine pouches and weaving baskets.  The community wellness garden and recreation complex site is located at a popular gathering place for our community members.  

Our Impact on the Community

  • Community Involvement
    • Our families can participate in bettering their lives by volunteering in our community garden while producing their own fruits and vegetablesHaving a master plan that our community can envision and become excited about accomplishing
    • Given hope to breathe life into one of our central “hubs” where we didn’t think it was possible
  • Wellness Garden & Recreation Complex
    • Irrigation, underground infrastructure and framed/raised planter boxes completed
    • Installed drip irrigation, nurtured the soil, and increased physical activity levels by tracking the number of volunteers and volunteer hours.
    • Planted over 400 plants in wellness garden including traditional and medicinal plants
    • Recruited 20 dedicated volunteers and numerous community partners who committed their time, energy and resources
  • Future Plans
    • Established 4-year project work plan
    • Established partnerships with Ya-Ka-Ama, Santa Rosa Junior College, Fusion Fitness and Sonoma County Indian Health Project
    • Sustainability – allocating current program funding while creating a total development fundraising plan, request local tribes to contribute, add possible ‘farm-to-table’ dining amenities, solicit private contributions, apply for other grants

Lessons Learned through Implementing this Program

  • Our program is trying to move away from the “garage sale” mentality of piece-mealing project together. Instead, we want to build a masterpiece that our whole community is proud of and that can be very costly.
  • We didn't anticipate the construction and infrastructure work to be so costly
  • Really trying to make this project into a park-like setting where our tribal families and communities can enjoy for generations
  • We are working on normalizing volunteering in our garden and expanding our communities knowledge around sustainable farming and gardening
  • Decide exactly what you want to accomplish
  • Find committed support persons who can make this a reality (I had to find the right people to work with who understood our vision and goals
  • Allocate/Budget sufficient funding to execute your vision