Indigenous Community Gardening as Community-Building with Grant Gliniecki

February 12, 2021

Frequently Asked Questions

So many cool plants mentioned on the call! Where can I get some of the seeds mentioned?

From Grant: We appreciate the interest in our seeds, however, sharing seeds comes with cultural protocols. Anishinaabeg (Anishinaabe people) consider seeds to be beings that we are responsible for caring for just as they care for us. Like we would not give away a human child to a stranger, we also do not give away seeds to strangers. Sharing many Anishinaabe seeds requires a deep and ongoing relationship. Further, as part of our agreement with some of the Plant Elders (experts, knowledge-keepers, and human advocates to plants), we also cannot gift most of our seeds to anyone who is not Indigenous regardless of our relationship to that person.  

For all these reasons, we can only accept seed inquiries from Anishinaabe persons prepared to commit to ongoing relationships with specific seed beings and their human stewards. Otherwise, we ask that you do not contact Giitigan to request seeds.  

The plants that are appropriate for us to sell, as seeds or as live plants, will be available for sale as we collect enough to share. Please follow our website or Facebook page for updates. 

How can we volunteer at the garden?

If you’re in the Greater Lansing area and want to be involved, check out their website for more information. Just a note that with COVID-19, I think it’s hard for a lot of us to be as open to volunteers as we might want, so please be respectful if there are not currently opportunities available!


  • If you’d like to learn more about Giitigan, you can do so at their website ( or follow them on Facebook.
  • If you’re interested in the Greater Lansing area and interested in Giitigan’s plant sale in partnership with the Hunter Park Gardenhouse, you can place orders here for spring pickup in Lansing, MI:
  • Other resources:
  • Michigan Native American Resource Centers:
  • A note on exploring indigenous history where you live from Grant: is an excellent starting point but remains a work in progress. Land relationships are complex and frequently overlap in nuanced ways. Use this and similar resources to find tribal names and keywords to continue research into understanding the ongoing relationships land has with specific Indigenous peoples. Complex understanding of land relationships takes time and listening. Many tribal nations are made up of several groups that were and remain distinct but were denied individual sovereignty and forced together to survive.

    For example: The website linked above says Giitigan is on Sauk, Mississuaga, Anishinaabe, Odawa, and Peoria land. Giitigan is specifically on Shiawassee Ojibwe (Red Cedar Band) land Shiawassee Ojibweg (Ojibwe people) lived in villages in Nkwejong (Lansing, MI) contemporaneously with Michigan State University’s presence in what is currently East Lansing, including a village listed in early University records as an “Indian Camp.” Shiawassee Ojibweg were forced to flee the area and join the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe on the nearby Isabella reservation under powerful and ongoing threats of violence and starvation. Before then, they cared for and maintained water transport pathways and massive prairie, savanna, and forest gardens in the area. As stewards of Nkwejong, where the rivers meet, they facilitated peaceful trade, ceremonies, and massive gatherings from around the Great Lakes. Shiawassee Ojibweg supposedly ceded their land in the 1819 Treaty of Saginaw; however, they were not appropriately represented among signers. Worse still, European settlers intentionally brought several hundred casks of alcohol to a feast Anishinaabe signatories had little reason to believe would result in further land cession. Likewise, the agreement preyed on fundamental cultural misunderstandings and mistranslations even for the many Anishinaabeg that were not fooled by settler pretenses and/or intentional intoxication. 

    This is a small glimpse into what we have a responsibility to know about this land and her people. It is a matter of basic recognition to name whose land you are on. It is a matter of respect and responsibility to know the story of that land. It is a good first step to know the names, but please make sure you follow that effort with the culture and history. 

Video Transcript

So welcome everybody. Welcome to week two of Cabin Fever conversations. As we said last week this year, in addition to, kind of topical conversations about gardening. We are going to host a number of conversations with community members who are working to create more of an inclusive garden gardening experience. And so today, our first guest in that series of conversations is Grant Gliniecki. So Grant, we're really excited to have you here. And if you want to introduce yourself, that would be awesome. Hi. I'm Grant Gliniecki. I'm the founder and president of the board of directors at Giitigan An Anishinaabe community garden in Lansing, Michigan. I'm a PhD student at Michigan State University focused on Anishinaabe food justice, urban indigenous community support and indigenous centered landscape restoration. I'm also the Graduate Assistant for the American Indian and indigenous studies program. And I am the Outreach Coordinator for the indigenous graduate student collective also at MSU, among other things. But I'll keep it at that. Lots, lots going on. Yeah, that's awesome. So we want to start off by asking you what brings you joy or hope when you think about this projects that you work on and are involved with. The thing that brings me the greatest joy is that because it is an urban garden, there's a really huge amount of solidarity and the ability to get deeper into building relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous community members than I've had ever had in the past, especially in East Lansing. There's a great interest and a community garden in general. Community gardening in general, there's been a huge push to recognize the importance of indigenous science in the garden. Yeah, I've walked by the garden a couple of times and it does just feel like part of the community and a lot more opportunities for kind of interaction and conversation and integration with what else is going on around. That is a cool piece. So I know we're going to start just giving you an opportunity to share a little bit about the project and the background and how this all came to be. So the floor is yours. I wanted to start with a quick overview on the area that our garden is based in Lansing, Michigan indigenous name in Anishinaabemowin the language of the Anishinaabe people. It's nkwejong being where the rivers meet. This is Shiawassee Ojibwe or Red Cedar band lands. The Red Cedar band or Shiawassee Ojibwe joined Saginaw Chippewa Indian tribe based in Mount Pleasant. And if you can see on a map, that's where we are, we're in that, that h section, actually over or below that, or above this H connection between the rivers. It's a really cool spot because it's been a cosmopolitan trade area for, I think, several thousand years at this point. Where different Anishinaabe people would come together and meet and trade, culture and goods and whatnot. In case you're not familiar. The Anishinaabeg or Anishinaabe people are composed of three fires, which are three main groups of nations. The Ojibwe, Odawa and Bodewadami and speak Anishinaabemowin or the Anishinaabe language. This is the map shows the traditional territories. And there's a lot of us. Michigan in particular, and especially in nkwejong or Lansing, Michigan is known for having the greatest concentration in, in the United States of, of Anishinaabemowin speakers. And we're very, very lucky to have them. Anishinaabeg are also well known for for food forest cultures. And culture is a four-line agriculture, basket making, quiltwork, beadwork, et cetera, all kinds of fun stuff. And I'll be sending out more resources on learning about Anishinaabeg with the resource follow-up for this talk. So can you so I didn't know that that Lansing had that kind of proliferation of Anishinaabemowin speakers. That's really cool from a local perspective to understand. Can you tell us a little bit about the origin of the project, sort of like what you created and why you created it. Or anything else that we need to know in order to inform kind of how Giitigan came to existence. Thanks, for getting me back on track there. So the actual garden started as just a personal garden for me. There was a lot for lease like right around the corner from my house. And so I leased it. And then as I started getting friends and mentors involved in it, because gardening is a communal activity, right? It's hard to do it on your own. I started realizing how important it was and how interested people were in it. And I learned about the history of past attempts to put together an Anishinaabe, a community garden in, in the area. Because there's over 1000 native folks in Lansing specifically, and several thousand more in the greater metropolitan area. So combine that with the highest concentration of speakers, Michigan, and the existence of multiple really cool youth projects, indigenous youth projects. But nothing on food specifically. It meant that there's It's sort of been primed and ready for a garden for awhile. So Grant why. Oh no. Did you have something else? You can go ahead and ask. Okay I was going to ask why you think this work is important. The work is really important for restoring cultural access and a place to, to interact with land in traditional ways and to pass on Anishinaabe sciences that we've had the great luck of There's Okemos Cultural Heritage Center, which is several miles outside of Lansing. And partnerships with Michigan State University and Fenner Nature Center that have made it so that different groups could engage with the land in ways that, that helped heal and bridge that gap. But because we've up until Giitigan we haven't been in control of, of the spaces. And it's been a collaboration or a secondary goal for the main program or the, the, the institutes that we work with. It's meant that, that we've been limited in what we can do until recently. So this is a part of a larger issue of sovereignty that is difficult to communicate. So I have a quick slide explaining what sovereignty is. So sovereignty, as you most likely have heard about it, is referred to generally as like a government to government kind of relationship. So this encompasses trade rights and the idea of having nation, nation relationships. So one of the big pushes in indigenous communities right now is trying to get, especially the US government in Canada and Australia to recognize tribal governments as peer nations instead of being like wards of those nations. And that's with the goal of being able to self-governed in traditional ways that encourage and promote the existence of traditional, traditional knowledge and values. And with, you know, like the final goal of restoring access to land and sharing access to land. The subset that I'm talking more about is cultural sovereignty. Sovereignty which has been challenged a lot of different ways. So values history as practices meaning like religion and oral histories. What we prioritize and community and family structures for the past couple 100 years have been subject to multiple different forms of assimilation and erasure. Including things like residential boarding schools where agriculture and relationship to the land and in particular, we're impacted most directly. So in residential boarding schools, young boys would be taught to farm in a traditional western style. And young girls will be taught to be housewives, which I don't need to tell you is a problem. And that also comes with because there's not very much known about indigenous cultures because that's part of, not part of most school programs and there's not much access for adults. There's also this idea of indigenous people being frozen in time. That if you look back 250 years and see what Anishinaabeg look like. And you look today, you'll see the same thing, which often leads to confusion about what an indigenous person looks like and what indigenous people do. Like all cultures, indigenous cultures grow and change over time. And the last thing that was most important to me personally, just because I do so much work and academia is that rigorous indigenous sciences, so approaches to creating knowledge about the world and exploring or conclusions or hypotheses about knowledge in the world can come in multiple different forms with multiple different sets of assumptions about how the world works or what's important to know. And that's impacted by an overall bias towards Western science. When, when you think about the idea of science and what knowledge is like, deep and rigorous. An example of that is so Anishinaabe science is mostly done for the purpose of better understanding our relationships to other beings and better understanding beings in order to fulfill our responsibilities to another. Vs. Western science is typically solely for the pursuit of knowledge in general. So having those, those different approaches at the very start of your work means that your, your led in different directions when it comes to creating and your actual methods that you use in teaching and in research itself. Which gets back to the point of this is a form of like reclamation. By being in control of the space, we are able to. Prioritize Anishinaabe knowledges and Anishinaabe youth in particular, we do a lot of work with, with promoting STEM, science, technology, engineering, and math in ways that are culturally relevant and useful for youth. And draw on existing knowledge that they already have. A lot of it is about confidence building and in teaching kids to recognize that they probably already know a lot of the concepts that I struggled with school. It's just that it's not being introduced to them or explained to them or the ideas aren't being connected in a way that's meaningful. That answered your question? I hope it did. Yeah, I think it definitely did. I think one of the things that sticks out to me is that there's that space for blended of indigenous science and western science right of like, how can we use this traditional knowledge and wisdom and way of knowing things? And, and bring in some new aspects of science, technology, engineering, and math to kind of create deeper connections for use in applying that knowledge. So that I'm, I'm interested to see how that plays out sort of at Giitigan again and and some of the gardening work you do around that. Yes. I think one of the I mentioned I started mentioning it when we when you asked me about what brings me joy. But the thing that's most exciting to me is that I think, especially being in an urban area, being surrounded by neighbors that are interested in what we're doing, but haven't been too pushy or about anything and and are letting us do sort of our own thing, allows us to focus on Anishinaabe people first and, and allow other people to come in and listen and learn without disrupting the space kind of thing. Because there's a certain amount of depth that you can get to. If you have people coming in who immediately want their questions answered because I'm happy to answer them. Versus people who pulled me aside afterward to ask them. It'd be like if you're trying to teach like a physics class and somebody came in and asked about algebra, it's important for both of those things to be taught. And there are ways to teach both of those things, but it's really hard to teach them both at the same time. And I would argue for me, at least, it's impossible. But something can be gained from both of those conversations. So having the space that we are able to decide on what we want to do for workshops really makes it so that we can actually improve cultural access, which is one of the biggest predictors of indigenous students success in urban areas. And that also leads to a much deeper relationship and mutual understanding. If we're allowed to in these spaces sort of show the complexity of Anishinaabe culture. That there are some things, practices that are disputed. Do you stake corn if it starts falling over? Because some people say that, that if you stake it, you're showing that you don't have any confidence in it versus other communities will say that staking corn, if it starts falling over, is necessary and is part of taking care of it. So having those conversations. And that's a fairly simple example there, it gets lot more complicated when you talk about tiling or soil science and, and ways that you interact with it. How long do you let a field rest all those things very, very significantly. And being able to have those conversations first instead of starting with, this is what Anishinaabe is, this is what this plant is called, allows us to, to get deeper with with our neighbors. Yeah. So I guess that kind of brings me to the question of how does, how does the community interact with the garden, both the community you're aiming to serve, which is your Anishinaabe community as well as the community beyond that, what's sort of the, the interaction with the space. So it's a, our main garden Is at 537 southern Clifford street. If you happen to be in Lansing. And its public, we have a path that runs through it. We encourage people to walk through it. We're putting signs up with the names in Anishinaabemowin and some facts about them. It's been put on hold because of COVID, like most things. But it should be up later this spring. But just in general, we encourage people to come sit in the space and listen. If you have time. We also really encourage people to take the time to garden. We have public, public volunteer days where we are carefully and with limited numbers you to RSVP, or plan is that you will have to RSVP for them. Engage in planting, tending to the plants in general. So just, general space for everyone to, to have that relationship with plants and to teach by showing more than teach by lecturing kind of thing. Yeah, and I love that you found ways to adapt that to COVID times when maybe you can't have the large gatherings that would be ideal for a space like that, but still finding those ways to allow folks to interact with the space and to have some connection to each other through that space. Even though those large potlucks or whatever you might traditionally be in garden community is not at the same level of accessibility right now. One of my favorite examples of community uses that we have a white neighbour that lives like right across the street. And I mentioned to her that some of the plants, traditionally, it would be important to sing or speak to them just to encourage them kinda thing. And so she's taken to bringing her guitar and playing music to them, which has meant a lot to us. Yeah, and there's a couple of different examples of like solidarity and building that kind of relationship that I can get into. But I made a whole slide about relationships and reciprocity as a to introduce those ideas in case you're not familiar. If you want me to go into that now. Yeah. Yes, please. So three major principles for Anishinaabe, like three core values are your relationships, your reciprocity, and your respect in those relationships. So relationships are in order to have, to start from somewhere. You have to have an ongoing relationship. You have to continuously invest in and put effort into how you understand and how you work and reach, reach out to and care for another person or other beings in general. And remember that it is an ongoing relationship even if you're not thinking about it. Which leads into that. The way that's a healthy relationship is through reciprocity, respect. Reciprocity is mutual interdependence or just relying on one another in ways that are equal and treat one another as equals. Each person might have different needs, or each person might have a different ability to provide for those needs at the time. But at the end of the day, it's understood that by working together, we benefit one another. And it's expected that we work together. So 1 thing is, if you pass on a important, crucial knowledge piece of traditional knowledge, it's expected that you will gift that the person that gave you the information, something like to traditionally would be Semah, tobacco, but it can be other small gifts now too. And the last thing is a cultural humility. The idea of respect. I don't know everything about your culture. I I know a little bit about Polish stuff. I don't know anything about Irish stuff. I'm, I'm going to ask as I'm trying to be humble about not, not assuming that I know anything about what's going on in your culture or about your culture and still being curious about that. So letting you set, letting someone else, the person that you're interested in, their culture, letting them set the pace for what they want to share. Doing research outside of the home. Like if you're dating somebody, maybe you look up a little bit something about their culture to do something nice for them, right? All relationships can benefit from that. And then all of that makes it possible to create a form, a solid, like a stronger form of solidarity. I have a couple of examples on this because I'm hoping that everyone and I'm assuming based on the Extension folks I've met, that, that people are probably interested in in contributing to this kind of solidarity. So the ways that have really worked for us is in the center picture. You can see that people contributed, this is pre COVID, contributed a lot of their time and labor digging like these deep fence poles in our fence posts inner and our compacted clay soil even in winter. If that gives you an idea of how hard they worked solely because they were excited about what we were doing and wanted to keep it going. It needs people who appreciated it, just being there and walking through it. So there was a mutual benefit there. Another important part convenings to solidarity is committing to ongoing learning. So making an effort to see how you can deepen your knowledge, how you can better understand and listen, which ties into supporting native voices. There's often ways you can support native people in your workplace, in your community. And if you go to, for example, a community center to learn more, it's helpful to start thinking about and taking stock on, "Is this a question that will help everyone here for me to ask now, or is this something that might make more sense for me to wait?" And asked the presenter at the end kind of thing. "Is this something that contributes to deepening Anishinaabe knowledge as well or combining or incorporating?" Yeah. And part of I think all of those things are, are really well-represented in a couple of collaborations we've had with Hunter Park Garden House, which is a, an offshoot of the Allen Neighborhood Center, just down the street from us in Lansing. In addition to working on writing a land acknowledgement together based on after we had already developed an existing relationship and and committed to working together. We're now part of their, their annual plant sale. So using their resources, their platform of, they have a sale like a sales platform. They have a delivery or pick up platform that we don't have to worry about. We're able to offer more of our plants, many of which are important for pollinators and do a little bit of fundraising for us. At the same time, we both benefit because our audience is slightly different from the Hunter Park Garden House's audience in general. So we've both seen record sales, which is really exciting. And last few things on the list are to buy native. If you're looking for gifts? I don't know. Maybe see if you can you can see what's available. I know that Okemos Cultural Heritage Center and most other heritage centers like Ziibiwing if you're near about Mount Pleasant. Ziibiwing is also a great place to learn in general. It's a cultural center and historical center. And gift shops. Yeah, I'll just say that if you didn't get the name of that we will send a lot of these resources in the follow-up. I know it's a it can be hard to write it all out as we're going, but we'll make sure to send all those resources out afterwards too. And that one is definitely a great one at Mount Pleasant. The last thing I want to introduce is not as popular in Michigan, but the idea of paying land rent or part of the pay the rent movement. For example, in Duwamish territory in what's currently known as Seattle. It's not super common, but becoming more common for community members who are not indigenous to pay rent directly to Duwamish tribal nation to recognize the, the, if the circumstances of the treaty signing and that they're occupying and that they value their access to this land. So in addition to fulfilling treaty rights in general to, to taking care of land and water as agreed to in treaties. They're also recognizing that the terms weren't necessarily equal. So if you're talking about traditional owners of land and you should pay them rent. So if you are interested in doing something like that, I would encourage you to figure out what your nearest tribal nation is and consider making a donation, like a monthly donation. And I'm going to share a, I don't know if I can share this. Oh, there we go. This an example of Real Rent Duwamish. We are still just seeing your presentation. That's alright. Yeah. Well, I'll include the links are an example of how to calculate what you might consider making. And I would encourage you to make that to a tribal nation instead of projects like mine. Yeah. We can do some fundraising. Yeah. Well, and I'll say to I mean, I know you mentioned that Lansing in the area where on is traditional land of the Anishinaabeg. And we'll share some information and resources for folks on the call who are in different parts of the world than in Mid Michigan to kind of figure out what land you're on and who were the original inhabitants and sometimes still contemporary owners is a weird word to apply to land, of course, but some of the contemporary folks that are there. If you're in the Lansing area, we also have let me go back a second. We also have a curriculum that we worked on with MSU as part of their 1819 tutor treaty commemoration was part of the understanding treaties grant. Our curriculum is called Land as rights Land as responsibility, I'll include a link to that curriculum, but just goes through ways of understanding and interpreting that treaties are a mutual responsibility. And it behooves us all. It helps us all to know what we've agreed to by being on land. So yeah. So here's just a screen shot. Yeah, we'll make sure to share that link out as well. So I don't know if you want to get into the garden a little bit more as about maybe yeah. Yeah. That sounds good to me. And this might harken to the plant sale as well. Maybe. Yeah. Yeah. So maybe just like but what sorts of things are unique to your garden? What are some of those plants that you are partnering with the Hunter Park Garden House in sharing more broadly. Kinda anything around that. Yeah, so we're really lucky that all of our plants are have been gifted to us from plant holders and plant keepers. So all of them are indigenous and Anishinaabe specific heirloom varieties except for our Amaranth. And example of a couple of the things that we've been gifted are from my family. Miss Shea gifted us a cranberry bean basically it's spotted cranberry bean and it's been in my community for, I believe 400 years. We also have from Punkin Shananaquet, a plant elder. I think she's Grand Traverse Bay and she gifted us a ton. So we have Mandaamin, or corn. That is a Bodewadami variety, it grows super fast. It's a flint corn. And so it's ready in about 65 days. Which if you know anything about corn is pretty wild. And it's because it's an indigenous corn variety. It has incredibly high protein count. It's fairly easy to process for a flint corn. One of my favorite things that we grow is a Bodewadami red seeded watermelon. And that one was documented by Jesuit missionaries in the 1600s. The oral history of it pushes it back another 100 years or so. And it's believed that, as you may know, watermelon comes from Central and West Africa. Most commonly, it's believed that that may have been gifted to to a Bodewadami community by a formerly enslaved person who escaped into the Michigan Territory at that point. It's such an incredible gift. And I can't imagine having that last little piece of home that you carried with you often braided in their hair is the oral history for that and brought to communities. So one of our other projects that we're working on right now is we're growing out a ton of the red seeded watermelons and we're gifting the seeds back to the black community in Lansing. Wow, yeah, it's, I think it's just so interesting when you start to think about the seeds is connected to all of those previous generations and all the hands that have helped them and pass them along their journey to get where they are today at, in your hands at the garden in Michigan, right? That's like a pretty wild journey when you can trace out all the way back to the 1600s. Yeah. One of the teachings that I am most excited about is considering seeds as beings, as, as family members kind of thing. And the reason that I'm so surprised that we got so much from Punkin Shananaquet is that traditionally and we believe that, that we're responsible for what happens to seed beings like you wouldn't give away a six-year-old child to someone that you didn't know. And we have to treat the seed beings and the seeds that we pass along the same way. And understand that they are now responsible for, for stewarding and being cared for and cared and carrying for those seeds well into the future. And maintaining the stories that go with them. It's also crucial to keeping the context for who they are and what they are. Again, if you're going to adopt this six-year-old, you'd want to know all you could about them, right? That would be the responsible thing to do. But it's often difficult to do that. And we've been very fortunate to have much more complete stories and a lot of people have. So what are some of the long-term goals of the projects or where, where are you hoping to get with this work in Lasing? Our long-term goals are to one thing that I'm working on through MSU as part of my dissertation is I would really like to establish nutritional foods pantry for Michigan community and community students in general. Michigan State University and community college students. One of the bigger problems that kids that have just come to university face is sudden loss of cultural access. Whether they are from reservations or lived off, off reservations in suburban or rural, it doesn't really matter where they come from. There suddenly cut off from families, their family members and direct, direct access to core cultural foods and having that piece of home can help improve and encourage student success. So there's things we can do to promote like access to ceremony. There's things we can do to help promote access to health. And the indigenous youth empowerment program in Lansing has done incredible work to help keep kids connected to culture and promote their self-confidence. And we just want to patch in a little bit more food justice there. The other thing we are really excited about is one of the commitments that we made when we were gifted the heirloom seeds is that we are bringing them back to a pool of seeds. A group of Anishinaabeg come and meet, usually annually. It's been a little bit more complicated this year and pool the seeds together to promote genetic diversity. And that makes for a much more resilient crop. So there are some varieties like the Bodewadami white corn we have was down to one person growing it. And there's a couple of different seeds that we have that we're down to just a handful of people growing it. So if they had one year with blight on their crops, that would be it. That would be the end of that entire story of that crop. So promoting genetic diversity will also help us resist disease in general and make a more durable crop and continue to do what has been done for several 100 years of selecting for a more and more and more fit for Michigan kind of crop. Because it's a little bit complicated, to grow anything here. Yeah. When you said that 65 day corn, we're thinking last, last week, our speaker was from the Upper Peninsula. And there's a much shorter growing season that things need to adapt to around here. And so having that ability to kind of have a community of folks adapting things regionally helps increase the possibility that those plants are going to be around in a few decades and Michigan too. So the last big thing we're trying to do is reconnecting other forms of agricultural work, namely food forest, and prairie foods. So we have two small city lots that are directly adjacent to Hunter Park, which is a large park in Lansing. And also where the counterpart garden house, is based. And we're going to restore those two traditional tall grass prairies. Well, Savannah, more Savannah than anything. But for the sake of buzzwords, it's, it's that we're calling it a prairie. And as part of that where we're working with the counterpart Garden House to look at options for potentially even in commercial settings growing out traditional, indigenous food plants. Things like Echinacea. Oh gosh, okay. Spider wort. In general, a bunch of different things that aren't commonly eaten right now, but have been commonly eaten the past. And so reconnecting access to those things. Because something that, that isn't fully well understood by everyone just yet is, is the complexity of human management and in forests and prairies and span as all over Turtle Island or North America. When the European settlers first arrived, they called it a Garden of Eden. And that there was food everywhere. And that's because indigenous people put food everywhere. As an example. In, full Traverse Bay a band has done some work with forestry to restore forests where they've been clear cut basically. And the thing about that is that the trees come back very well. They come back very quickly and they do great. But you don't see the understory plants coming back, many of which are medicinal plants. So those have been, and we're understanding more and more over time, an oral histories have been supported by Western science more and more that those have to be physically transplanted in by hand. They aren't things that spread very well by seeds because they're used to human hands being ones that take care of them. So yeah, restoring that human presence, like humans are natural beings too, or animals. So we have an impact on the land and maybe we can learn from what people have been doing for 20 thousand years here. Yeah, anything. It's that idea of reciprocity to what we can give back. So for people who want to get involved and we had a question come in about volunteering. Again, I think that relates to this reciprocity and solidarity, but do you have any vision of how they could get involved. What would be ideal, I guess? Well, if you're interested in working with Giitigan in particular, we have a Facebook page that I think the link for that is both on the the event description and will go out afterwards, which also links to our website. I'm more likely to update the events on our website than our Facebook page I'm working on it. Where we bench, where we list days where you can contribute at community, like open community events. If you're interested in doing labor or working in the garden or outside of those hours. You can also feel free to contact me or any of the other board of directors. Dr. Elizabeth LaPensée she's a professor in media and information and writing, writing, RAC. I can't remember what it stands for right now, as well as Dr. Angela Kolonich. And she is the director of a Create for STEM initiative at MSU. And all all our contact information will be in the email as well. If you're interested in not in the Lansing area, if you're not around the area, I would encourage you to see what is already available for, for indigenous projects and community centers. And start by building a relationship and trying to deepen your understanding of the area you are working with. Because often that's the best place you can start as before. Yeah. Yeah. I'm trying to figure out how to phrase that. Contributing labor and waiting to be listening for what you can do, what will people are asking for is often the best place to start. And then deepening your understandings that you can start anticipating what people might be looking for. And I think what you said about building a relationship too, I mean, I think so often. I know I get excited about a project and I'm ready to like, dig in and find out what I can do. And so often it's just about establishing that relationship first and letting, letting the person you're interested in working with kind of guide that conversation and guide the requests, and just being open to what might be helpful or maybe what might not be helpful from you, right, as a person, not part of that community. Something that has been very exciting for me is and that I don't get as much in academic spaces but are gradually improving is the idea of having this very fixed, ongoing relationship. We know our neighbors very well. Several of them are homeowners, but even the ones that aren't aren't usually very long-term renters. So we're able to sort of work with them and figure out, okay, we kind of want to put a farm here. What do you feel? How do you feel about that? Because it is right next to your house. You live here. And understanding what we all want from the space and what we can do to help each other has been really key. I'm so has building like longer term relationships with, with non-indigenous community partners in general from already existing garden and gardening related organizations like Hunter Park Garden House. That relationship took about six months to start building before we were both feeling comfortable enough to start collaborating on a project. Just making sure that we understood what are our values and goals were and how we could fit those into, into one another. So I'm wondering if we could bring up a couple questions from the audience for you Grant. There's a, there's a couple questions about kind of what's being growed at, grown, and sold at the plant sale as far as like what kinds of crops you're highlighting there? What kinds of not just crops but plants you're highlighting there? Yeah. I will. Wondering if I can pull up the plant sale and have it on screen. I'm not gonna worry about that right now. So we're growing five plants for, to contribute. We've been very fortunate that all of them are either plants that are happy to be shared with anyone and just don't, aren't really picky are things that are, are, are wild usually and are more important to spread just as providing more room for small pollinators, like made native bees. Little solitary bees. So we have Zhigaagominzh, which is, it literally means skunk bulb or stinky bulb. It is a Allium canadense. So it's not, it's a little bit more earthy than, than a wild onion that you might be familiar with. It's a close relative of ramps, if you're familiar with those, or wild leaks. We also have Dkibgoons, which is a wild mint Mentha arvensis. And that's great in tea, I'm a huge fan of it. As well as, oh gosh, I'm forgetting one. But we also are offering two different amaranths which were both gifted to us. And those are the ones that are just happy to go anywhere. They'd been cultivated for at least 6 thousand years by Nahua people. But they still are fairly close to their wild cousins and can get a little bit weedy but they don't spread very quickly here because it freezes off so hard. So one of them is Komo, which is the Hopi name for it is, it is a red Amaranth and it's really good for dye. Amaranth is a close relative of spinach, so you can also eat the leaves. And we have a couple of recipes on, on our website, that will also be available. And the other variety of amaranth we have is a golden amaranth or Huaútli. which is the much more traditional 6 thousand year old from Abya Yala, the South America variety. Yeah. And then the last one is, ooh, oh Namewashkoons. Which is, it's a mountain mint. So it's got a very minty floral flavor and very good with tea. It's a Pycnanthemum. Mm it is, but yeah. So yeah, please check those out. Hunter Park also offers a ton of different heirloom, like tomato varieties that are incredible. I think they have sold out of almost everything else. Yeah, I really love that the diversity of things that you're growing and that reminder of like relationship with even beyond the community that you're engaging of that relationship with like the bees and all those things that's so essential to incorporate in the garden. We had last year one of our episodes was on native pollinators and we learned all about the, I forget how many now that there's many, many, many, many, many individuals, species of bees, 450 plus? I feel like it was, and so just that reminder of like even things that you're not going to eat being essential to incorporate into those practices and then kinda like fostering that broader environment. So there's another question a couple of folks have asked us if they want to find out about projects similar to yours that might be happening in other regions of the state, how they might go about doing that? I don't know if you have thoughts on that. You shared some of the other cultural centers and resources, but any other thoughts on that? But it's a very good question. Honestly, my suggestion might just be doing a Google search with some key words. "Native American cultural center" and see what the nearest one to you is. As well as you can see what tribes are, what tribes are around you. Most have fairly robust websites where you can also see what they have in their resources section. So they might have suggestions for, or they might link to garden projects or they might be asking for volunteers on the website. So it's kinda just doing a deep dive. I don't know if that helps. I think it doesn't then I think just a reminder to, to learn about the history of the region that you're in. And what, what, what Native American people have been there that can start guiding those, those search results in a little bit more of a directed focus rate, starting with understanding the history of your region to find out who is there and doing this kind of work. That's probably a good starting point. Sort of doing, making the effort and doing your research. Yeah, it definitely helps if you can if you know the name of the tribe that is from the area that you're in or still is in the area that you're in. And even if you, even if they are not in a formal presence like that governance, government presence, I can bet you, I would bet you a lot of money, but there's at least some of those original people still there. So for example, Shiawassee Red Cedar Band. There's a couple of family members from direct descendants that live in the area, but most live at Mount Pleasant about an hour away. So there still is that very deeply rooted connection and an ongoing presence which is important to highlight. So I think we did, we had one more question that somebody was curious for the food that is grown in the garden. What have you done with it in the past growing seasons? I know you said you were working on developing that traditional food system, but someone was curious where it, where it goes. That's an awesome question. So the first couple years we have been focusing on growing out our seeds. The the traditional way that you share seeds with somebody, you give them just enough to plants enough to grow their own seeds. So for some of the for some of the seeds that we got, especially the rarer ones, we got maybe nine seeds of that plant. Most of them we got ten to 20, but just a few. So we spent the first two years growing out. And from now we're going to, so I've been eating like for watermelon, my mom and I and Beth's kids have been eating the watermelon and spitting the seeds out. So we have the excuse of eating delicious watermelon for just for fun. But this year we're working, working on directly distributing to indigenous community members. I have to make an appointment with, I have to talk to a bunch of different community resources, but making sure that it gets into hands. That's awesome. So I think we're just about at time. We wanted to just end with the question Grant, of what is bringing you kind of hope or what are you most looking forward to in this 2021 growing season? I know as we look outside, there's quite a bit of ice and snow on the ground. And we're looking at some more time practicing some social isolation. So what is, what is bringing you kind of hope or what are you most looking forward to as we as we enter the 2021 growing season? That's a very good question because I was just talking about how we have to take a little bit to establish our seeds before we can plant out some things. This past year, we just finally got enough of the Mandaamin or it the, the white corn together that we can plant an entire, like, I think, I think it's only a 16th of an acre of, but it's much bigger than anything we've planted corn before. It's going to be an entire city lot that's just corn, squash and beans growing together. So a pretty radical step up from on the amount that we were producing. So I'm excited about actually passing things onto community instead of hoarding seeds. There's always this. Here's where your like rationing, your tablespoon cuz you can keep, you know, you're just trying to replicate it out. So it's exciting to see that come to fruition. Yeah, awesome. Well, anything else that you'd like to share with the group before we close for the day Grant? This has been really wonderful and I'm really grateful for you sharing your wisdom and knowledge and work with us and with our audience. I think I've gotten to touch on everything I was excited to talk about. Yeah. I really appreciate all the questions. Thank you. Yeah. And there are a couple that we'll follow up with in that email follow-up as well. And will of course share links to all of the resources that Grant mentioned to get again and to some of the other resources around the state. And just grateful to all of you for being with us today on this Friday afternoon. That everybody thank you so much, Grant. Yeah. Yeah. And thanks to Rachel our interpreter. Well, we'll look forward to seeing you all next weekend or next week on Friday at 12:30, where we'll be highlighting composting and biochar practices for your garden and integrating some of those into, into your growing practices. So thanks so much everybody. We'll see you next week at 12:30. And thanks again Grant. Have a good one. Bye.

You Might Also Be Interested In