Young Cherokee learns gardening as pastime
Cherokee Nation citizen Zachary Beck holds a bowl of freshly picked banana peppers, bell peppers and carrots that he and his mom, CN citizen KaSandra Beck, grew together in their garden at their home near Colcord. Zachary began learning how to cultivate a garden with his great-grandfather in 2019. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Zachary Beck picks ripened bell peppers from his garden at his home near Colcord. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Cherokee Nation citizen Zachary Beck holds a cabbage he grew in his garden near Colcord. At just 7 years old, Beck is learning the ins and outs of gardening by growing several types of fruits and vegetables. COURTESY
Cherokee Nation citizen Zachary Beck, kneeling, learned from his great-grandfather, Arthur Speer, how to plant seeds in his garden near Colcord. COURTESY
COLCORD – Cherokee Nation citizen Zachary Beck is only 7 years old, but his interest in gardening during the past year has taught him more about plants, responsibility and getting out of his comfort zone.
“This has made him more adventurous in trying new things, too. He doesn’t always like it, but he does try it,” KaSandra Beck, CN citizen and Zachary’s mother, said.
Zachary took an interest in gardening a year ago, learning from his “Papa” Arthur Speer. He said his favorite thing to do while gardening is “digging up grass” and being able to pick vegetables when they become ripe.
“It’s actually my grandfather, and he’s done gardens for years. Then (Zachary) started getting into it and I said, ‘well, we want to garden.’ And he just took it and ran with it. I was the one that wanted to garden,” KaSandra said. “It wasn’t anything we pushed on him. He just took it and ran with it. And my grandfather, he just loves it. He’s in his 70s. He has a pretty big garden, and he loves it that Zachary likes to come out here with him.”
She said her grandfather said if there are any questions to refer to Zachary because of the knowledge he’s obtained in the past year. For example, he’s learned the difference between cantaloupe and watermelon leaves.
“The cantaloupe is furry, and the watermelon is slick when it gets rained on, but it’s just hard when it’s just dry,” Zachary said. “We planted tomatoes, cantaloupe, and watermelon. There’s banana pepper plants, bell peppers, and carrots.”
He is also growing corn, green beans, sunflowers, cabbage and a cotton plant.
KaSandra said she and Zachary have learned several do’s and don’ts while gardening.
She said one day she went to pull up what she initially thought was a weed and Zachary was quick to correct her when she pulled up a radish. “He knows more about it than I do.”
They have also learned what types of plants can or cannot grow in the same garden. For example, they attempted to plant squash and watermelon in 2019, but it didn’t work out.
He said watermelons did not grow very good this past year because of the squash that was also planted, that the roots may have intertwined as they grew.
Zachary said his next gardening venture is to learn how to grow strawberries and possibly avocados.
“I think it’s great. I think it’s a learning experience and it’s teaching him responsibility. He just enjoys being out here,” KaSandra said.