CLAREMORE – Members of the Rogers County Cherokee Association began a community garden with the intention to provide a supply of food to community members suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it is considered a cultural garden with the intent to share the Cherokee culture via heirloom plants.

Lynn Wilson, RCCA treasurer, said she and other members had the grand idea to start the community garden and have enough vegetables to give away to help elders and community members.

“Whenever the pandemic was here and the supply chain was broke at the grocery, not everything was readily available,” Wilson said. “So we started thinking what can we do to combat this. The idea of the community garden came up. What we originally wanted to do was grow enough vegetables to actually supply elders or families in need. But with the pandemic and us not being able to really gather out here and do things, it was impossible to come up with enough people to make that happen. So we had to scale the garden idea down a little bit. So now what we’re really doing at the moment is more of a cultural garden.”

The goals of the garden are to sustain the supply of Cherokee heirloom seeds, provide gardening classes to teach the best practices to raise traditional crops and host cultural and food preservation classes, according the RCCA website.

Wilson said the seeds for the garden came from the Cherokee Nation’s heirloom garden in Tahlequah. Jewel gourds, candy roaster squash, Trail of Tears beans, tobacco, corn beads, basket flower, white eagle corn, wild senna, and cut leaf coneflower currently grow in the RCCA garden.

“All of the plants that we have are our heirloom plants,” she said. “The idea behind that was to grow the heirloom plants, collect seeds and then starts plants that we could give out to our members.”

In addition to the garden, she said RCCA members want to build a greenhouse to aid in the growth of heirloom plants. The greenhouse is still in the planning stages.

“We do want to bring kids out here and show them how to plants garden and how to care for things,” Wilson said.

She said there are most likely few active community gardens in the CN reservation because of the pandemic.

“The reason there’s probably not more is because of what we’re experiencing. There’s just not enough people willing to volunteer,” she said.

Wilson said the garden will continue along with the greenhouse.

“For us its more for that preserving our heirloom plants and teaching people how to garden themselves at home,” she said.

For information, visit www.rccherokees.org or Rogers County Cherokee Association-RCCA on Facebook.