Hundreds of trees planted by community, Wind River Grow Our Own

(Wind River Reservation, WY) – Local nonprofit Wind River Grow Our Own 307 is leading a BioRegion Development Project that includes planting trees on the Wind River Reservation.

The project kicked off last week with the planting of chokecherry, black currants, and Eastern Red Cedar trees near the Little Wind River in Ethete. This week, trees will be planted in Fort Washakie School’s Northfield – the Chokecherry Grove will be dedicated on Friday, May 14 starting at 10 am.

This effort was made possible by fundraising and a grant from the University of Wyoming’s WRIR Micro-grants Program, shared Darrah Perez-Good Voice Elk, Wind River Grow Our Own 307 Co-founder.

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The micro-grant aided in purchasing shovels, paying honorariums for the blessing of the land, and obtaining a water pump to utilize the river’s water to help the trees in the new bioregion stay watered and take root. 

h/t Wind River Grow Our Own 307

The bare-root trees were purchased from the Wind River Conservation District.

“Before beginning this journey, we had no idea where to get trees from,” Darrah explained. “Through the Lower Wind River Conservation District we found trees in bulk bundles and for cheap. It is our hope more people from communities will start utilizing our Conservation District’s tree ordering services. Our earth depends on it and we depend on the earth to provide for us. By next year, it is our hope that everyone will get fruit-bearing trees on their own and plant them in their own backyards.”

h/t Wind River Grow Our Own 307

The Wind River Grow Our Own 307 program is here to help motivate others to return to living off the land. The program not only helps the community with motivation but through partnerships that create a connection to offer education to all.

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“Our hope is that we spark the interest of first-time gardeners and over time gardening picks up for them and that they learn to expand on their own for years to come,” said Deneica Barrett Wind River Grow Our Own 307 Co-founder. “We are a large community and over time we would like to help more people. We do things on a volunteer basis and having volunteers is important for the work we are doing.”

Through learning about gardening and the growing and harvesting of traditional and medicinal plants it is the overall goal of the program, to help preserve culture, and protect these practices to be classified as a healing agent for all. 

h/t Wind River Grow Our Own 307

“I always tell people”, Darrah continued, “Google is our best friend, and so is YouTube. We want to learn how to grow something we can ask Google and it will show us how. It is important to utilize apps like this for these purposes. We live in a time where technology is important and we must learn to embrace it. Our survival depends on it.”

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The program has noticed that some gardeners learn about gardening and get overwhelmed. Darrah’s dream is to bring back societies where families can be labeled by what they take interest in growing. For instance: One family can be the corn family, another family can be the squash family, and another the bean family, and so on and so forth with the knowledge of growing foods. And each year they rotate what they grow for soil health composition. “Right now, it is a dream, but something we are striving for,” she noted. 

“Gardening takes a lot of work,” Deneica explained. “You can’t just plant seeds, water them, and expect them to grow successfully. You have to learn how to not overwater and not underwater and give the plants enough sunlight. You also have to mulch and weed, it takes a lot of time and attention, but at the end of the growing season is all worth it because of the health benefits.” 

Getting more people involved with gardening is exciting to see for the program and they have been grateful to serve 150 community participants with recently having the ability to add services for an additional 75 more gardeners bringing their total up to 225 participants. 

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h/t Wind River Grow Our Own 307

In collaboration with Christine Porter and Melvin Arthur of the Growing Resilience Project, the Wind River Grow Our Own Program will conduct a two-part survey that includes demographics such as fruit and vegetable consumption, food scarcity issues, and eating healthy foods in general. The survey is a before gardening services and after garden services research study to gain information on how programs on and near the reservation can have a better success rate. 

Through an additional grant from the Equality State Research Network located at the University of Wyoming, the group can hire a paid Vista Worker from Action Research International stationed out of Laramie. The application can be found online. Interested persons with a gardening background are asked to contact Darrah Perez-Good Voice Elk at 307-240-4257. 

For more information contact Wind River Grow Our Own [email protected]. You can also stay up-to-date by following their Facebook.

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