San Carlos Apache Teens Grow Heirloom Apache Crops Through UA Cooperative Extension Program

Produce from the garden at the San Carlos Apache Juvenile Rehabilitation and Detention Center includes Navajo melon, Apache squash, cantaloupe and watermelon, among other crops. (Photo by Bryce Barnes, SCAJRDC)
Produce from the garden at the San Carlos Apache Juvenile Rehabilitation and Detention Center includes Navajo melon, Apache squash, cantaloupe and watermelon, among other crops. (Photo by Bryce Barnes, SCAJRDC)

San Carlos teens are learning to plant traditional Apache gardens through a grant-funded project of the University of Arizona's Gila County Cooperative Extension.

A $5,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's People's Garden – one of only nine in the country for the year – resulted in the development of five gardens that are impacting teens throughout the community northeast of Tucson.

Noah Titla, 14, won first place for his watermelon and took grand champion at the Gila County Fair for squash he grew as part of the program offered by the San Carlos Apache Tribe office of UA Cooperative Extension, a program of the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

"Everything about growing and the seeds and the soil is very interesting," said Titla, who is now gardening with his grandfather. "Gardening is important to the community. It's our culture and without our traditional food, we have nothing."

Sabrina Tuttle, associate agent in agriculture and natural resources and 4-H Youth Development with Gila County Cooperative Extension, has taught gardening in her community for years. Her program got a shot in the arm when it received the People's Garden grant to develop the gardens starting in 2012.

Among them is a flourishing garden at Mt. Turnbull Academy in Bylas, an alternative school for students ages 16 to 20.

For most of the students, it was the first time they had gardened, said principal Jayson Stanley, who grew up in the area.

"They learned the Apache style of planting crops," Stanley said. "They worked with the soil and built the garden themselves. They grew tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, corn and chiles."

Read more from this October 8 UANews story at the link below.

Date released: 
Oct 30 2013
Contact: 
Sabrina Tuttle