Each kit contains eight varieties of vegetable seeds and fruiting shrubs that can provide each family with fresh produce valued at $600, as well as a how-to gardening booklet. The program started in 2004, and since then 6,000 kits have been distributed, providing more than $3 million in healthy food for tribal members.
“Good nutrition is vital to our Cherokee families,” Hicks said. “Not only are we helping people eat healthy foods, we are encouraging them to practice Cherokee agricultural traditions.”
Since the program began, the tribe has also seen an increase in family dinners to enjoy homegrown foods, Hicks said. Hundreds of community volunteers, the EBCI tribal staff and the tribal Cooperative Extension staff assist with the garden kit project each year.