The garden and the harvest celebration “are a way for us to share a part of our heritage and our culture — not just the past but the future, too,” said April St. Francis Merrill of Swanton, chief of the St. Francis/Sokoki band of the Abenaki Nation at Missisquoi.
Merrill and her tribal community are key partners in the project, which was created in 2008 by volunteer advisory board members of the Burlington Community Area Gardens (BACG), a program of Burlington Parks and Recreation.
The Abenaki Heritage Garden is an Intervale Center project with a community advisory board made up of representatives from BACG, the St. Francis/Sokoki band of the Abenaki Nation at Missisquoi, Gardener’s Supply Co., USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and the University of Vermont’s Environmental Program — all of which will participate in Thursday’s celebration.
This year, the project also received funding from Will and Lynette Raap and New Chapter, a Brattleboro-based organic dietary supplement company, and is now part of the international Sacred Seeds Network, a program of the William L. Brown Center at the Missouri Botanical Garden.
“We have lots of great team members. We’ve all learned a lot from each other,” Merrill said. “It’s through programs and events like these we can help people understand more about us.”