Ramada-demonstration area constructed summer of 2003
Ardith Read, Basketweaver,Steering Committee member
The Tending and Gathering Garden (TGG) is a collaborative effort between the Native American community and the Cache Creek Conservancy (CCC) to demonstrate traditional land and plant management practices of California's native people. These two acres nestled in the homeland of the Wintun people, have been restored with native plants found within the Cache Creek watershed. These plants are used for basketry, food, fiber, shelter, medicine, and watercraft. The TGG provides a place for "hands-on" education including plant identification, plant use, and traditional management methods. It's also a source where cultural practitioners can gather plants.
The TGG is managed with both traditional and contemporary horticultural practices. These include pruning, coppicing (cutting a plant back to the ground), hand weeding, irrigating, and burning. Digging is used for harvesting certain plant material. No chemical pesticides are used in the garden. Fire is one of the best tools because many species are well adapted to frequent natural events. Burning at appropriate times encourages luxuriant new growth, removes harmful pests, and reduces competition from non-native invasive weeds. These management practices provide benefits to individual plants, entire species, and the ecosystem as a whole.
The TGG serves as a valuable model for other communities interested in growing culturally significant plants. The transformation of this former gravel mining site on the edge of the wetlands showcases species representative of grassland, woodland, and wetland plants found in the watershed. The garden serves multiple functions including educational and cultural uses, research and restoration of native habitat, as well as providing an aesthetic component to the Nature Preserve. It demonstrates traditional land management practices used for native flora establishment and sustainability.
The Cache Creek watershed is a rich area ecologically, culturally, and historically. All of its residents have a stake in its long-term health. The TGG project is overseen by the Cache Creek Conservancy. Guided by traditional management methods of California's Native Americans, this garden grows from the work of many hands. This collaborative effort has resulted in gifts of expertise, labor, financial support, and research skills. A deep-rooted regard for the land and natural beauty of this area drives the work of the Steering Committee for the garden. This group, comprised of CCC staff and practitioners form more than a dozen different tribes, directs the planning, implementation, and ongoing growth of the Tending and Gathering Garden.