The Shining Mountain Health & Wellness Program has unveiled their latest concept with the hopes of encouraging healthy eating and lifestyles across the reservation.
On Monday, June 20, the program introduced a spiral herb garden outside of the Southern Ute Health Center that will be used to plant an assortment of herbs and natural foods.
Deanna Frost, Shining Mountain Director Apprentice, and Namichen Oberly constructed the garden out of brick, whereas Tribal Council and Sunshine Cloud Smith Youth Advisory members handled the duty of adding the soil and potted foods.
The program plans to add three additional spirals to several locations in Ignacio – Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy, Ignacio Senior Center, and Peaceful Spirits Center. Additionally, there are plans on bringing a gardening program to the Southern Ute Detention Center.
“This is an opportunity to share with our membership, because gardening is what we did as tribal people,” stated Tribal Councilwoman Amy J. Barry at the garden’s launch. “It’s a historical achievement for our diabetes program and the [Southern Ute Health Department]. As long as we support this initiative, we will see federal funding to support more of these.”
In 2015, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe was awarded the Good Health & Wellness for Indians Grant from the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board. The grant allows the health department to choose three health initiatives that would be funded – traditional foods, breastfeeding, and physical activities.
The idea of constructing a spiral garden came from its unique design. Plants that need the least water are rooted at the top the ones that need more are placed below. When watered, the stream will seep down to the bottom herbs with just enough moisture for it to grow.
“Namichen Oberly and I were able to build the brick walling in just a day, about four to five hours,” stated Frost. “I really like the design because it could be put in smaller areas. The Academy will be building their own spiral next, and then development in the other locations. We hope these spirals will encourage people to build their own once they see them. If someone wants to build their own, we can provide the resources for them.”