Gardens for food security sprout across Flathead reservation


RONAN — At what was once barren soil north of Kicking Horse Reservoir, Fred Billings led an evening class on one of several new community gardens now bursting with produce.

Taking out a plastic tub from his truck filled with already harvested heads of lettuce and radishes from other gardens, Billings pulled out a pink radish nearly the size of a tennis ball. Taking out a pocketknife, he sliced the radish open, exposing a vibrant tie-dye purple inside.

“Now, is that cool or what?” he said, giving a slice to Dana Hewankorn, manager of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes’ recently created food sovereignty program focusing on security for the reservation.

Billings, a lifelong agriculturalist, said typically a radish that large would be hollow on the inside, but the program’s focus on natural gardening methods has prevented that. “And that’s what’s exciting about food sovereignty because people can get stuff they could never buy, never see and it’s all incredibly nutritious,” he told the class.

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