Community

Public Health Nurse provides gardens for Osage elders

Photo caption: Elders will enjoy a garden at the Osage Nation Civic Center this year. Courtesy Photo/ON Communications

The Osage Nation (ON) Public Health Nursing/Health Education (PHN/HE) Program and the Osage Nation Community Health Representatives (CHR) program have combined efforts to create unique garden beds for our Osage Elders to enjoy this spring. The garden beds are located behind the Osage Nation Civic Center.

ONPHN manages the Good Health and Wellness in Indian Country grant as a part of the Grow, Gather, Hunt Program. The design of the garden is in the French Potager style. The garden itself will be a “Kitchen Garden,” according to Jaime Clark, ONPHN Coordinator. The Potager style includes organized beds with gravel pathways for elders to walk through the garden. The growing beds will be filled with herbs, vegetables, and flowers. ONPHN will use vegetables for summer canning and cooking classes.
 
Both departments (PHN and CHR) grow seedlings in the greenhouse at Elder Housing to plant in the garden. Vegetables and canned vegetables will be delivered to Elder Housing residents this fall. The garden will also serve as a host location for gardening classes this summer. The ONCHR Program recently received their master gardener certification and will help deliver the classes. The gardening classes will be a component of the Grow, Gather, and Hunt Program. The covered arbor will have picnic tables to be utilized for classes. ONPHN will deliver Gather classes using the medicinal and edible, wild herbs that will be grown.  
 
The centerpiece raised bed was designed by Jaime Clark in the shape of ribbon work. Clark asked ON Tribal Works to assist with the task. “They did an excellent job of building it to specifications,” said Clark. The design is 18’ in length, 5’ wide, and 2’ tall. “We wanted it tall enough that if elders wished to come, enjoy planting or weeding, they could do so sitting in the edge and not bend. This bed will be filled with color. Lots of flowers, herbs, and vegetables. Tribal works, especially Dan Walker and Chris Maker, worked diligently to build it in a short time,” said Clark.
 
Clark will stain the outside of the bed to compliment the plants that will grow from it. Other beds in the garden will grow cucumbers, tomatoes, squash, greens, onions, okra, melons, and corn. The corn this year will be Bighorse corn, which is an Osage corn. Clark added, “We have a few seeds and hope to grow to collect more seeds from this beautiful corn.  The entire garden will be interspersed with colorful flowers to attract pollinators and provide beauty.”