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Gardens and Tonic: Where Food Grows on Water: Indigenous Stewardship of Wild Rice

September 24, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Join Vern DeFoe and Heather Leach for an exploration of the cultural relevance of manoomin through an ethnobotanical conversation and cooking demonstration by NĀTIFS, an organization leading the way in re-valorizing Native foodways through Indigenous food education and access. Manoomin, as wild rice is called in the Ojibwe language, is crucial to the spiritual and cultural life of the Native peoples who live in the northern Great Lakes region of North America. The sovereign stewardship, traditional harvest, and preparation of manoomin by local tribes are vital to the protection and conservation of this important food.

Cooking demo by Vern DeFoe – Indigenous Food Lab Kitchen Manager – NĀTIFS

Vern has been working in the food industry for over 20 years, and is now the Kitchen Manager at the Indigenous Food Lab of NĀTIFS. He has a passion for showcasing the diversity and flavors of Native foods and connecting Native people to their ancestral foodways. He believes that this connection to ancestral foods is key for Indigenous people, and sees great empowerment in going outside and foraging for foods local to the area. Vern grew up in Wisconsin and is a member of the Red Cliff Anishinaabe tribe.


Ethnobotanical conversation by Heather Leach – NĀTIFS Board Secretary

For Heather, one of life’s greatest pleasures is a home-cooked meal shared with others. These meals together inspired her to study ethnobotany and to learn from people around the world how they grow, prepare, and eat food. A cultural connection to food, and the amazing diversity that results from that bond, is what she hopes to celebrate through her work as an agricultural and culinary educator. Heather works with incarcerated adults and youth in detention in the Delaware Valley as an orchardist, farmer, and cook.


Gardens and Tonic is a series of virtual webinars with horticulture professionals. Grab your favorite beverage and join Julie Jenney from the Scott Arboretum and a featured horticulture professional for plant-related topics, adventures, and stories – as well as design-focused talks on private and public gardens. Time will be set aside to answer your questions. Registration is free but required. Participants must have Zoom downloaded on their computer and be comfortable using it. The webinar link will be included in the confirmation email received after registering online.

Help keep these virtual programs free! If you would like to help fund the G&T series, we invite you to donate online or with a check for your desired amount to: the Associates of the Scott Arboretum with a note on the memo line “For virtual G&T series.” Thank you!


September 24, 2021
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Event Categories:


Virtual Webinar