First Time Gardener on the Wind River Reservation heals from loss through gardening

A first time gardener and resident of the Wind River Reservation, Vernalyn Bearing has found success in growing vegetables her first year. Vernalyn says gardening has not only helped with providing fresh vegetables, but has also helped her grieve the loss of her father.

“When I needed tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, or peas, I didn’t have to go to the grocery store and risk exposure.”

Vernalyn: “I found a connection to my dad when I was grieving his loss. He was the best green thumb I knew, and I learned how to take care of plants from him. So I found comfort when I was gardening.”

Vernalyn: “He always told me if you put your mind to something you can do anything. So I started gardening. I didn’t think I could do it but I did.”

Crawford White Sr. passed over in January at the beginning of 2020 and Vernalyn Bearing a graduate student attending the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work says the nonprofit Wind River Grow Our Own 307 has really helped her during this difficult time of loss and through the Covid-19 pandemic. “The program gave me an opportunity with support, being a working parent, and student, when I couldn’t purchase what I needed Grow Our Own was super helpful,” says Bearing.

“I would make a meal using wild game and vegetables.”
“It was a good feeling to clip vegetables and go inside and cook with what we grew.”

Vernalyn has always dreamed of having a garden but couldn’t just yet, because of her living space. Through now owning her own home, she says she can plant trees, and garden, whereas renting it wasn’t as easy to do so.

Gardening has been her connection to comfort during the loss of her dad who once told her, “There is no adopted, I’m your dad.” Vernalyn honors her dad’s words for he was the best green thumb she knew and she learned how to take care of plants from him. At one point she doubted that she could maintain a garden but after the 2020 growing season she is already preparing for 2021 and the vegetables it will bring.¬†

Published by windrivergrowourown307

Wind River Grow Our Own 307 is a board led organization that provides gardening supplies to community and who teaches about traditional and medicinal native plant description and usage to help in bridging the divide through creating equality.

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