For heritage, relief Cherokee Association builds community garden

Community gardens such as this are serving as the design inspiration for the Rogers County Cherokee Association community garden currently underway.

One group wants to meet the growing needs of their neighbors with a community garden.

Fundraising efforts are underway for Rogers County Cherokee Association, who have set out to plant a community garden on their 5-acre property in Tiawah.

"When COVID-19 hit, Cherokee Nation was pushing all of their leftover food from the casino to the community and was coming through our facility," RCCA's Lynn Wilson explained. "We have seen, now, that there's a great need. People were on our page asking about food assistance, how they could sign up and when we were giving it away next."

She said they were deeply appreciative that the tribe supplied canned goods and dry food to Cherokee citizens.

"It was really great, but there was no fresh fruit and produce," Wilson said. "We have a lot of land not currently being utilized… Agriculture is a huge part of Cherokee culture. So first, we thought let's start a garden and use it as a teaching opportunity to teach how to grow food and crops we need for cultural classes."

For example, she said, they're going to grow gourds which are used in a lot of Cherokee crafts, and heirloom corn which can be used to make flour or be used to bake hominy.

The more they thought about it, the more they saw a need.

"If COVID-19 hits again in the fall like they're producing, there could be a big need to supply our citizens with food. We decided the community garden, if we could enlarge it on a big enough scale, it could make a difference in our food system," she said.

She said it will be a while before crops are ready as the project is just beginning.

The RCCA is currently accepting monetary donations or donations of material needed to get started, like lumber of plant starts.

"There is a lot of up-front cost in this project," Wilson said. "There's lumber and soil and then the issue of animal control. We're likely going to have to come up with some kind of fencing to keep deer and rabbits out. Eventually maybe we could implement a timed irrigation system so volunteers don't have to be out there every day of the summer months."

The garden will be managed by RCCA members and community volunteers.

More information, including a link to donate via Paypal, can be found on the Rogers County Cherokee Association-RCCA Facebook page.

Anyone with additional questions should contact Lynn Wilson at 918-978-7622.

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