The CalFresh Healthy Living, UCCE Riverside (CFHL, UCCE) has been working with the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribe to advance policy systems and environmental change (PSE) and the health of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla people since 2013. The spring planting in the A'Avutem (elders) garden in 2020 was very successful, however further activity in the garden was on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tribe's Community Wellness Committee continues to meet virtually with the Cooperative Extension Advisor Emerita, Chutima Ganthavorn and the CFHL, UC staff, Andra Nicoli and the CFHL, UCCE Riverside team (Claudia Carlos, Jackie Barahona, Esmeralda Nunez) to implement PSE initiatives which are also the goals the ACORNS project (Advancing California Opportunities to Renew Native health Systems), funded by CDC through California Rural Indian Health Board (CRIHB). On March 22, 2022, Esmeralda and Jackie successfully organized another round of spring planting in the A'Avutem garden, with assistance from multiple partners including the Torres Martinez Natural Resources Department, UCCE Riverside County Master Gardener Program and Riverside San Bernardino County Indian Health (RSBCIHI). Eleven tribal members, including youth and seniors, gathered and planted chili peppers, bell peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, tomatoes, squash, basil and chamomile. Our CFHL, UCCE Riverside team is thankful for the opportunity to be a partner with the Torres Martinez tribe in building health awareness, education and activities, and for organizing this garden event.
“It was just a great experience learning and understanding we as Indian people still have our connection to mother earth. The ability to know how to plant and make something grow is an amazing thing that I never really appreciated until now.”
~Gary Wayne Resvaloso Jr, Youth Advisor