In the past our Navajo grandparents always planted their own gardens in the spring. They gathered wild celery, onions, spinach, carrots, and medicines during the summer for winter storage. They were self-sufficient. We have relied on outside sources for food and medicines when we can still practice the traditional food sources that helped my relatives in the past.

Sara Powell

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Sara Powell, 16, lives in Springville, Utah and belongs to the Kinyaa’aanii clan of the Navajo Nation. Sara comes from a large family that is very connected to their local community, where she attends the district high school and participates in their Title VI program. In her area, many families had to leave the reservation to secure better work and educational opportunities, which has led to difficulty for urban Native youth to connect with their cultures and traditions.

When she learned that there are only 13 grocery stores on the Navajo Nation, that rates of obesity and diabetes in her tribe are twice the national average, and that that 90% or more of the food on the reservation is imported, Sara saw an opportunity to engage Native youth in her urban community with traditional Navajo food systems and teach youth how to use their cultural practices to address food security issues. 

Through the Three Sisters Garden, students can grow indigenous plants, learn traditional recipes, and have access to fresh and healthy food. Sara hopes that increased food access and food sovereignty will increase health in her community, provide more food security, and reconnect Native youth with their culture and the land.

“I want my peers to learn about Utah’s natural resources, weather, laws and pollutants so that we can make better choices to access healthy foods. Through gardening and gathering food we can learn more about our ancestors and how they survived so that we can keep these practices thriving.”


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