Food Forest to Host Indigenous Plants, Share Native Culture

SHERIDAN — Established in 2016, the Sheridan Food Forest located in Thorne-Rider Park has provided a place for community members to wander and forage at their leisure. Next week, the forest will become home to several plants indigenous to the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation as a means to educate the community and bridge the cultural gap, said Carol LeResche, founder of the Food Forest.

LeResche said the acts of foraging and sharing food are deeply entwined in human history in all walks of life, lending to a unique opportunity to bridge cultural gaps.

“I think as humans we have a relationship with nature. I think that shows up a lot in my perspective… the community around food and sharing food, I think that’s one of the reasons the Food Forest is sitting there, welcoming people in to forage for things that nature provides as a really basic human activity,” LeResche said.

Several native plants have already been planted in the Food Forest ahead of the event, including buffalo berries, skunk bushes, sage and elderberries, to name a few, though the remainder of the native plants, LeResche said, will be as much a surprise to her as they will to the rest of the community. In the days leading up to the ethnobotanical event, more plants are to be delivered and planted in the forest by Alisha Bretzman and David Malituch of Piney Island Native Plants.

“The interesting part will be the uses and the stories behind those plants,” LeResche said. “That will be the first time I hear them.”

Pennie Vance, agriculture and local foods organizer at the Powder River Basin Resource Council, said the event will be attended by Linwood Tall Bull, Northern Cheyenne elder, and his son Randall. The Tall Bulls will walk community members through the forest and discuss the lore behind them, plant new ones and perform an indigenous blessing on the garden.

“[LeResche] always thought it would be good to have an indigenous garden. Our neighbors, who are not far away, have a very unique culture and we don’t really know a lot about it,” Vance said. “She’s been really keen on trying to bridge the cultural gap that we have, which I think is a wonderful idea… At this point, we hope this is just the beginning. Even if nothing else happens, it’s a really special project.”

The ethnobotanical event will take place 5:30 p.m. Aug. 31 at the Sheridan Food Forest, located at 375 W. 11th St.. The event is free and open to the public and light refreshments will be provided.

Source : Sheridan Press


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