This year the College of Menominee Nation (CMN) expanded campus activities through the practice of gardening. In spring, the Sustainable Development Institute, Department of Continuing Education, and the GB/Oneida campus all planted gardens. While each garden is different, they all answer the basic question, “Where does our food come from?” In addition, all of the gardens provided the opportunity for hands on learning for students, faculty, staff, and community members.
The Sustainable Development Institute started their garden project last December by hosting a series of Community Food Sovereignty gatherings. These meetings allowed for input, identified need, and explored ideas. From these listening sessions, the concept of creating a garden in the shape of a turtle evolved.
A 75’ x 50 ft. oval garden was formed with the help of the CMN maintenance department, students, faculty, SDI staff, and community members. Within the outer perimeter, 13 garden plots were installed signify the 13 cycles of the moon that are represented on the outer shell of a turtles back. The individual plots were then adopted by campus student organizations, individual students, high school and college interns, faculty, staff, and community members. The head of the turtle was planted in strawberries, and the 13 garden plots were developed and planted dependent on the desires and needs of the plot manager.
In addition to the turtle garden, the Department of Continuing Education planted a seed saving garden at the Keshena campus. This garden is an open pollinated heirloom garden with the goal of obtaining a community supply of well adapted seeds. Menominee youth along with staff planted and took care of this garden. The next step is to harvest the seeds and provide seed saving workshops at both campus locations.
During the summer both of the Keshena campus gardens flourished. Beginning in September, on Friday mornings the ripe produce is gathered and taken to the newly formed Ketekanak (Farmers Market) in Keshena. Staff and students participate in Ketedanak activities by collecting and preparing campus produce, overseeing campus sales, market set-up, and overseeing the other market vendors. In addition, advertising and marketing for the event is a collaborative effort between the Sustainable Development Institute, the Department of Continuing Education, and the Menominee Boxing Club.
At the Green Bay/Oneida campus, staff took on the challenge of planting a Three Sisters raised bed garden. The three sisters are corn, beans, and squash, and the plants are grown together to benefit one another during growth. The corn supports the bean, and the beans add nitrogen to the soil. The leaves of the squash plant cover the ground to prevent weeds and soil erosion. The bed box, constructed by Craig Fox, Trades Program Coordinator, is set outside of the campus building near an entrance so that it can be viewed by everyone.