Garden Dreams

Teena Thompson is a Service Member in Rocky Boy.

We wonder if we will ever get to garden again on this cold January day with snow blanketing all of our land here in Rocky Boy Reservation. As temperatures drop below zero, it seems like a far-fetched dream. But dreams are important.

A Rocky Boy sunrise in January.

As recently as 50 years ago, the prospect of having their own school district was a mere dream for Rocky Boy. However, in 1970, the Reservation’s petition was finally approved and now serves hundreds of students, mostly Native Americans, living on or near the Reservation. Since its inception, Rocky Boy School District has not only taught reading writing, and arithmetic, but has also served to help students to understand the sacrifices and hardships and dreams of our ancestors, to understand what it means to be Chippewa-Cree.

As a FoodCorps member, I work regularly with Rocky Boy School District on nutrition education as well as school gardens.  By helping children plant, grow, and harvest their own food, learning through experience about the land our ancestors knew well, I believe that I’m contributing, in some small way, to this larger mission.

Teena passes out garden box awards to Rocky Boy
Elementary students.

As I walk through the halls of Rocky Boy Elementary, I am warmed by the bright smiles of students eagerly asking when they can begin building our school garden. “Ms. Teena!” A young second grader exclaimed just the other day, “Can we grow vegetables from our garden for our end of the year barbecue?” Another student enthusiastically expressed his desire to plant an apple orchard around the garden so he and his family could eat all the apples they wanted and never have to buy one from the store again!

Their enthusiasm is contagious, and I too dream big. I dream that the school garden that we will build this spring will be a lively hub for the whole community. I dream that the garden will spark a lifetime of learning that can be passed from student to student no matter what time of year. I dream that the food that we grow will nourish their minds and fuel a passion that keeps them coming back season after season. And I dream that every child I serve has a dream, and the seeds and soil and sun to nurture it to life.

Teena shows the garden space she has been granted from the Rocky Boy School District.