From the Burlington Free Press.
For the second summer this century, the Intervale in Burlington has been home to a traditional Abenaki “three-sisters” garden — referring to the staples of corn, beans and squash — similar to plots the Abenaki would have cultivated annually in the same fertile flood plain 900 years ago.
Thursday, local schoolchildren, partners in the garden project and the public have been invited to celebrate the harvest and to honor the agricultural heritage and contemporary culture of the Abenaki with tours, cooking demonstrations and other educational activities followed by a community
potluck and barn dance.
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.”
Our first blog comes from Alison Novak. Alison works as a Diversity Outreach Specialist at the Sustainaiblity Academy at Barnes in the Old North End.
Alison & I were meeting in late 2009 to discuss a Social Justice book list she is putting together and she mentioned a few things about a “CLif literacy night” they had a few days prior. The event sounded incrediable: 100 students and their families attended! It also sounded like one of the many exciting events that happens in the BSD community that is not talked about enough. I asked her if she could write a few words about it and you’ll find them below:
“The evening consisted of a dinner for families, a workshop about how to encourage reading and promote literacy at home for families that was led by Duncan McDougal, the executive director of the Children’s Literacy Foundation, and a storytelling presentation for students. One hundred students and their families packed the Learning Center for the event. At the end of the presentation, each child in attendance selected two books to take home. In addition, CLiF donated some books to our Learning Center. CLiF’s generous support allowed us to have three translators at the event — Mai Mai, Burmese, and Nepali — so that a wide array of families could participate”.