Monday, May 25, 2020

Indigenous Food Education at Anishnabeg Outreach

June is Strawberry Moon. The medicine of the strawberry is reconciliation. It was during this moon cycle that communities usually held their annual feasts, welcoming everyone home, regardless of their differences over the past year, letting go of judgement and/or self-righteousness

Strawberry Teachings
  • The strawberry is known to be the heart berry due to the fruit’s shape.
  • It is an important food and medicine for Indigenous cultures in North America
  • Strawberries could treat digestive disorders, skin problems, and strengthens the uterus during and after pregnancy. The plant provides vitamin C.
  • “Just as the O-day’-min (heart berry) is connected to the strawberry plant by  vast system of leaves, runners, and roots, so is the heart connected to all the organs and parts of the human body. The heart is at the centre of the human.” - Elders.
  • The berry is used to help people understand the connection between the mind,body, spirit, and emotions.
  • The heart berry reminds people of reconciliation and teaches people how to maintain heartfelt relationships in our families and communities. It teaches forgiveness and peace. Finding peace doesn’t always come from the head/mind but comes from the heart.
  • It is known to be a woman’s medicine and teaches young women about creation, community and love.
  • Ojibwe Elder Liza Mosher teaches young women to fast on strawberries as well as other berries for a full year when their first menstrual cycle begins.
  • During the same year, they would be surrounded by grandmothers who teach them about womanhood and how to bring life into the world. At the end of the fast, berries collected throughout the year are presented to the community. This represents how the female learned to care for and sustain her people.
  • Mohawk Elder Jan Longboat says that the strawberry represents konnonronhkwa which translates to “I show you I care” or commonly translated as “I love you”.  
How to Plant Strawberries from Seeds
  1. Sow indoors in the winter. Start any time between December and beginning of February. Transplant out at least 3 weeks after last frost
  2. Tuck the strawberry seed packet inside a sealed plastic bag or container and place in the freezer for 3-4 weeks
  3. When removing the bag or container, do not break the seal until it is room temperature 
  4. If opening the package too soon it may result in water condensing on cold seeds, reducing the success chances
  5. At room temperature, seeds are ready to be planted 
  6. Sow the seeds on the surface of pre-moistened, sterilized seed starting mix in trays or small containers
  7. Place these on a piece of felt or thick cloth with its end sitting in water.
  8. This is for wicking water from below so that the seedling medium stays constant and evenly damp until germination
  9. Keep the tray of seeds under bright fluorescent lights at a constant temperature of 18 to 24 degrees germination may take 7 days to 6 weeks. Once germination occurs, increase ventilation around your plants to prevent damping 
  10. Once there are 3 leaves, they can be transplanted into their own pots or garden. 
  11. Space transplants 60cm apart in rows 90-120cm apart
  12. Maintain moist environment. Water regularly

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