COVID-19 ALERT: COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Email Certified Wild Plants & Medicine Educator Myk Heidt with questions about wild plants, their medicinal benefits, what’s ready to harvest, and how to use! Another resource is the recently published 13 Moons First Foods and Resources Curriculum. Staff are happy to provide a copy to anyone in the community interested in having one.
About the Program
“Our health comes from our culture and our culture comes from our lands, our waters. To make good decisions, these connections must be respected.”
–Swinomish Elder Larry Campbell wanaseah, Community Environmental Health Specialist
The Swinomish Community Environmental Health Program supports and enhances health and wellbeing in the Swinomish way. A healthy community encompasses all aspects of Swinomish relationships, values, and priorities. Health is the physical, social, mental and cultural realms on individual, familial and community scales, including reciprocal relations between people, their natural environment, and nonhuman beings. Program co-leads, Larry Campbell and Jamie Donatuto, developed the Indigenous Health Indicators (IHI) to reflect non-physiological aspects of health that are important to the community.
Evaluating Indigenous Health is not easy task due to the many intangible aspects of health. Our strategy is to focus a paradigm of health in lieu of disease, and to think about less tangible aspects of health via the proxy of first foods (also called traditional foods or “our Swinomish foods”). We apply the IHI concepts to our climate change work, as well as to food sovereignty and informal learning.
We have developed and launched the 13 Moons curriculum, based on the 13 lunar phases of a calendar year. The lunar cycles indicate seasonal changes, so each moon is named for the seasonal events that take place during that time. For example, the “Moon when the Frog Talks” usually begins in mid-to-late February and signals the coming of spring and the time to harvest new greens such as nettles and miner’s lettuce. The curriculum provides a variety of informal educative workshops and activities for all ages that are specific to the harvest cycle. The activities reflect the foods, resources, traditions, technologies, and practices associated with each of the 13 moons, supporting and bolstering the IHI. Foods and medicines made during 13 Moons workshops are shared with the community at Elder lunches and community dinners, among other events.
Accompanying the 13 Moons curriculum is our program’s work to increase access to fresh, local produce. We manage the 13 Moons community garden and the Swinomish preschool’s mini 13 Moons garden. Fruits and vegetables from the garden are freely shared in the community via produce carts, at Elder lunches, and in the main kitchen.
We work closely with several Swinomish departments and programs, including Fisheries, Hunting and Gathering, and Education. We collaborate with the Skagit River Systems Cooperative in maintaining the gardens.