HHCDA provides organic gardens in its communities of Blue Wing Village, Indian Heights, Sandpillow Village, Ho-Chunk Village, and Chakh-Ha-Chee Village. The Blue Wing Village organic garden, located in Tomah, Wisconsin, was started in 2014 and continues to thrive and grow to this day. From this one garden, HHCDA received requests from other HHCDA communities for their own organic gardens, and in 2015, Indian Heights Village garden was started in Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin. In 2016, a third garden was developed in Sand Pillow Village, Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Following this, in 2018, HHCDA started a fourth organic garden in Ho-Chunk Village, located in Wisconsin Dells, WI. The fifth and most recent garden was started in 2019 at Chakh-Ha-Chee Village, located in Nekoosa, Wisconsin.
For three years, HHCDA used the original garden-development template used at Blue Wing Village as the foundation upon which to continue a vision gifted to the program by a Ho-Chunk elder veteran, who led with Ho-Chunk values: the purpose of the gardens is to help feed our Ho-Chunk people and to teach them to feed themselves. HHCDA took this vision on, as a part of the agency’s community-development aspect, to assist families in learning new skills that address their needs.
In 2017, HHCDA conducted a Food Sovereignty Assessment of the Ho-Chunk Nation, obtaining grant funding from First Nations Development Institute. The demand for gardens needed to be assessed before we could start more gardens. The Food Sovereignty Assessment will be conducted again in 2020.
The garden project utilizes organic practices regarding soil, seeds, and garden management, and begins activities in January each year. Planning meetings start off with the scheduling of organic garden training classes for everyone to learn or review these practices. Community members decide what fruits, vegetables and healing herbs they will be planting, aided by educational classes conducted by tribal nutritionists and herbalists. In addition to learning about the health benefits of garden produce, they learn both to preserve food for winter and to make healing salves for their families. Canning classes and herbal classes are scheduled throughout the year, so families can become comfortable utilizing what they learn.
In 2019, HHCDA was able to hire a full-time Garden Coordinator. The Garden Coordinator is vital to these projects, as the number of gardens has increased year by year, as has the number of community members drawn to the program each year.
In 2021, HHCDA will be hiring a new Garden Coordinator in February, to join the HHCDA Team. 2021 Garden planning meetings will soon be scheduled in your area by public notices being advertised, you may also check back to this website.
We believe strongly that green and recreational spaces are important to the health and social well-being of HHCDA communities. HHCDA has developed, and on an ongoing basis, maintains parks and recreation areas for neighborhood and community gatherings. These green/recreational areas have included: