Blog August 1, 2012
Growing food and community at Standing Buffalo First Nation
Standing Buffalo First Nation is a Dakota tribe located in the Fort Qu’Appelle Valley, northeast of Regina, Saskatchewan. Funded through the 2012 Walmart–Evergreen Green Grants Program, Standing Buffalo’s Indigenous Orchard and Community Garden Project is a great example of the positive and far-reaching impact that a food garden can have on a community.
In 2010, Standing Buffalo embarked on an ambitious Community Plan that focuses on four key areas: Building Community; Education and Employment; Land and Community Infrastructure; and Youth, Fun and Recreation. This Community Plan is part of a region-wide project called the First Nations Comprehensive Community-Based Planning Pilot Project. Based on the “First Nation Community Planning Model” developed by the Cities and Environment Unit at Dalhousie University, this pilot project focuses on an integrated community engagement approach—allowing communities to create a web of support, build capacity, and share knowledge and lessons learned that can be applied to future planning and projects.
The Indigenous Orchard and Community Garden is an integral part of the Standing Buffalo Community Plan, bringing people together and instilling a connection to the land, which many members lament is being lost. Its central location in the heart of the reserve administration buildings area also makes it accessible for school and community programming. Students from the Tatanka Najin School regularly participate in garden programming that engages curriculum connections and “inspires youth to learn about plants, food production and nutrition.” This integration of local food into the day-to-day eating habits of Standing Buffalo members will improve health and wellness, and reinforce the community’s connection to the land.
The focus on inter-generational knowledge sharing allows elders to pass on their cultural knowledge, such as traditional and medicinal plant uses, to younger groups. Other garden programming ties into many related aspects of the Standing Buffalo Community Plan, and allows the garden to act as a fertile ground for education, training and employment.
This holistic approach is also reflected in the garden design, which has incorporated different plants for different purposes: from edible windbreaks planted with silverberry, wild plum, and chokecherry; to bank stabilization plantings with dwarf red raspberry, prairie dropseed, and bearberry; and pollinator-friendly species such as bee balm and meadow blazingstar inter-planted with food species, every plant has been chosen with care.
The Indigenous Orchard and Community Garden is so much more than food—it is a hub of growth, learning and sharing that brings together all generations, and represents an important step in the process of developing a thriving community for Standing Buffalo First Nation. Evergreen is thrilled to support this important project, and we look forward to seeing the garden and the community grow!