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A Wampanoag Garden

November 24th, 2010

The Wampanoag were a tribe of Native Americans who lived in the Eastern Woodlands. They had a very organized way of life that was completely respectful of all the natural resources provided by our incredible planet. These amazing people understood the importance of “reduce, reuse, recycle” and only took from nature what they needed to survive.

It is the Wampanoag people who helped the Pilgrims and taught them how to plant food in ways that are good for the soil and crops. The Pilgrims came from Europe, where it was a tradition to plant only one type of crop in a field. However, the Wampanoag taught them a better way, which we now call “organic” gardening. And, the first Thanksgiving was a celebration of harvesting food that helped the Pilgrims to survive.

So, if Thanksgiving reminds us of being thankful for family and all the wonderful things we have in our lives, let it also remind us of the kindness of the Wampanoag people and their respect for Earth. Next year, think about planting a Wampanoag organic garden. Then, celebrate the harvest of your organic food during your Thanksgiving meal and share some of your harvest with those in need. Here’s how you can plant an organic Wampanoag garden:

Begin by watching the leaves on trees in the spring. When the leaves are the size of a squirrel’s ear, it is time to plant. Prepare the soil by burying a fish in the soil about every three or four feet apart and a couple of inches deep. Then, build a mound of soil above each buried fish. The fish are the fertilizer that will help the plants grow.

Next, start with the first mound. Plant bean seeds around the circumference of the mound and corn seeds in the rest of the mound. As the corn grows it will also help to support the bean plants, which grow on vines. In return, the bean plants give nitrogen to the soil, which is important for keeping the corn and soil healthy.

After the first mound is planted, move on to the next one and plant squash seeds in it. The squash plants have large leaves that grow along the ground. These leaves will help prevent weeds from growing and keep the soil moist for the squash, corn, and beans.

Continue to rotate planting the mounds with corn and beans together and then squash. Along with the benefits already mentioned, planting the corn, beans, and squash will attract insects that eat up the destructive pests you do not want in your garden.

As you watch your organic garden grow, you can marvel at the beauty of nature and the ingenious farming skills of the Wampanoag people. When it is time to harvest your crop, think about donating some of it to a local food bank or charity. And next Thanksgiving, you’ll be able to appreciate the celebration even more as you enjoy food from your organic garden and know that others in need have benefitted from your efforts to share.

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