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November 9, 2023

Healing with Wild Foods and Medicines

Healing with Wild Foods and Medicines
The stories are teachings, and indigenous storytelling is a cultural way of transferring knowledge.

—Willard Bill, Jr, Muckleshoot Tribe

The Wild Foods and Medicines program partners with Native educators, Elders, and cultural experts in developing place-based educational tools that promote respect for the land and increase understanding of tribal history, traditions, and food sovereignty.

This program provides educational resources, community classes, and teacher trainings that connect people with the land, the seasons, and community. The wonders of plant life are discovered through an educational approach steeped traditional Indigenous knowledge, storytelling, and a hands-on practical approach to working with plants. In our Wild Foods and Medicines programs, people build skills in food security, health, social/emotional intelligence, and land stewardship.

Over the past year, GRuB and partners distributed 150 wild berry teaching kits, 86 medicine kits to the Yakama Tribe, and over 100 Plant Teachings for Building Social-Emotional Skills books to tribal educators. We offered five virtual community workshops to 226 participants in collaboration with partners such as Canoe Journey Herbalists, members of the Tend, Gather and Grow development team, and local herbalists. Under the Tend, Gather and Grow program, we offered four teacher trainings to 94 different  educators, plus a tree communities training for Bastyr University educators, who are now implementing the curriculum in their Sacred Seeds program!

The goals of GRuB's Wild Foods and Medicines program are to:

Connect people with nature by increasing knowledge and fostering connection to local plants and ecosystems.

Improve nutrition and food security through increasing knowledge about wild edible plants and indigenous food traditions.

Build youth agency in creating a food system that promotes the health of the land and of future generations (land and community stewardship).

Build a sense of cultural pride among Northwest Native children and youth, and a greater understanding of indigenous people among non-native students.

Help immigrant students to connect with their own traditions.

Develop STEAM education that is experiential, promotes a sense of wonder and inquiry, is place based, and inspires passion to pursue careers in STEAM fields.

Develop student skills in sensory observation, storytelling, and documentation as a means for self-expression and social change. 

Sharpen senses and the art of noticing through seasonal attunement.

Build social/emotional intelligence through plant teachings.

Some of the schools or organizations using the Tend curriculum include:

Schools: Avanti High School, Elma High School, Garfield Elementary, McClure Middle School, Muckleshoot Tribal School, Olympia High School Freedom Farmers Program, Salish Middle School, Yelm High School…. 

Tribal and First Nations Programs: Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, Canoe Journey Herbalists, Chehalis Tribe, Colville Tribe, Cowlitz Tribe, ISPARC Health Living Program (Canada), Jamestown Tribe, Ketchikan Indian Community, Lower Elwha Tribe, Makah Tribe, Muckleshoot Tribal School, Native Youth Leadership Alliance, Nisqually Tribe, Quinault Tribe, Spokane Tribe, SouthCentral Foundation (Alaska), Squaxin Island Tribe, Swinomish Tribe, Suquamish Tribe, Tsartlip First Nation

Educational Organizations: Bastyr University, Hands On Children’s Museum, Nature Nuts, Olympia Timberland Library, Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center, Sustainability in Prisons Project.

* Honoring cultural property rights and protected knowledge is an important part of this work. We respect and honor Native communities’ right to keep sacred knowledge within their communities, and strive to share knowledge that is appropriate for a broader audience. 

Our first teachers are the trees, are the plants. Our classroom is outside. One of the methods that we hope to bring back is that art of noticing, taking the time to breath and to be in the moment to notice of the plants that are coming up...

—Aleta Poste, Squaxin Island Tribe

Watch this video to learn more about Wild Foods and Medicines, a program that facilitates Homegrown Healing!

Our foods take care of us, and in return, we must care for them.

—Mariana Harvey, Yakama Nation

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