ZUNI, NM (Apr. 25, 2022) —This Saturday and Sunday, Apr. 29-30, the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project will officially launch the 2023 growing season with its annual Garden Kit Distribution. On this weekend, 80 pre-registered families will be able to pick up their garden kits and participate in a variety of walk-and-learn stations that will be educational and fun for all ages.
This distribution event is an important part of ZYEP’s Food Sovereignty initiative, which provides access to resources, instruction and knowledge sharing through its Agricultural Advisory Committee. Made possible with support from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Native American Agriculture Fund, New Mexico Department of Health and Newman’s Own Foundation, the program brings community members together to share the journey from prepping, planting and nurturing to harvesting, seed-saving and recipes.
Each year, the journey begins with the Garden Kit Distribution and its walk-and-learn stations. Topics for the stations include garden tools, water conservation, soil, seeds, and garden planning.
“At the water conservation station, we’ll be touching base with each family about their water situation, because we’ll be delivering their rain barrels soon,” said Food Sovereignty Coordinator Jessica Quinlan. “At the seed station, we’ll be talking about when and where to plant, each plant’s water needs, and what to plant together or separately. People are often surprised to learn that plants have preferences!”
Participants also will have opportunities to try their hand at a little planting, as cooler-weather crops such as greens, cilantro, onions and peas are ready to go into the ground now. ZYEP will provide healthy snacks, and as families depart, they will pick up their garden kits, each equipped with a water reuse bin, trustworthy non-GMO seeds from the local seed bank and the Tucson, Arizona-based nonprofit Native Seed Search, and a selection of garden tools.
According to Assistant Food Sovereignty Coordinator Brittny Seowtewa, families can take their rain barrels at the event, or ZYEP staff will deliver them in mid- to late May, before the summer monsoon fires up. Last year, the rain-harvesting tanks in Ho’n A:wan Park completely filled, and families who received rain barrels reported saving many hundreds of gallons of water.
ZYEP also is preparing for its 2023 Food Sovereignty Workshop Series, which kicks off on Wednesday, May 17. This first workshop is dedicated to soil health.
“We’ll explore how moisture works, and how the plants themselves work,” Seowtewa said. “We’ve designed each workshop to be interactive, so they are great opportunities to share information. We’ll have fun, kid-friendly activities so families can learn and make memories together.
“We’re hosting one workshop per month during the growing season, and this year, we’re expanding to the whole community,” she added. “We can accommodate 40-plus people in each one, and they’re open free to the public. No registrations required.”
The June workshop will focus on water conservation, shade, and moisture retention; July will address pest management; and August will highlight healthy recipes from the garden. Then, as autumn arrives, ZYEP will bring back its popular Family Cook Nights.
To learn more about the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project and its programs, and for information about making donations, partnering with ZYEP, and volunteering, call (505) 782-8000 or visit zyep.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest news and events, follow the nonprofit youth organization on Facebook (/zuniyouthenrichmentproject), Instagram (@zuniyouthenrichmentproject), YouTube (/ZuniYouth), and TikTok (/zyep09)
Founded in 2009, the nonprofit Zuni Youth Enrichment Project is dedicated to promoting resilience among Zuni youth so they will grow into strong, healthy adults who are connected with Zuni traditions. ZYEP fulfills its mission by providing positive role models, enriching programs, and nurturing spaces that contribute to the healthy development of Zuni youth. ZYEP strives to provide every child with the encouragement and opportunities they need to reach their full potential.