SEEd Garden hosts education about native plants


Kennedy Lum

Beautiful flowers are blooming in the garden as everyone partakes in making their safety kits.

Kennedy Lum, Reporter

The SEEd project garden at California Lutheran University is host to various events over the semester, the most recent a native plant lecture by cultural educators Kathy Willcuts Garcia and Steven Garcia.

Willcuts Garcia and Garcia are members of the Lakota and Tongua tribes who use plants for medicinal purposes. Willcuts Garcia and Garcia said white sage in particular is a rarity, commonly used for smudging, curing the common cold and has sedative properties.

Willcuts Garcia and Garcia said smudging is the practice of cleansing the soul as a way to ward off negativity, and there are ceremonies that Native Americans practice in order to complete this ritual. They also said that during the ceremony, white sage is burned as a way to heal tribal members.

After the introduction, participants got the opportunity to make their own safety kits, equipped with white sage spray, natural tea bags and charcoal bandages. Everyone got to take home their kits to use on minor injuries. In order to make the white sage spray, people had to rip off a leaf from a sage branch.

“Whenever you’re going to take something from the earth you have to give something back,” Willcuts Garcia said. “Put your hands in the earth and connect to it.”

Willcuts Garcia encouraged everyone to get in touch with Mother Earth to start a relationship with nature and spend as much time outside as they can because we weren’t meant to be housed.

Willcuts Garcia talked about how important it was for her to get medicine from plants that recognized her. Garcia said that as a society it is essential to reconnect with the earth, and, in return, humans will grow their intangible and spiritual relationship with the plants.

SEEd project workers shared the same sentiment toward the importance of native plants. Senior John East has been a student worker at the garden for over a year. East said that the SEEd garden is home to various different California-native plants.

“Something like a toyon or a California wild rose is native where mustard plants are not,” East said. “Historically, the knowledge we have about these plants derives from native peoples, and events like this help us to be more educated because there are a lot less native plants than there once were.”

In addition to East, Senior Manuel Hernandez is a student worker at the garden who specializes in native plants. 

“I think it is really important to show people how pretty these plants can be…especially in California with all the droughts that we have, it is important to have some alternatives,” Hernandez said. “I have been working with the Santa Monica mountains and they have a nursery, they have a lot of plants that they use for local restoration.”

Director of the SEEd project garden Megan Fung talked about new initiatives the team hopes to implement in the future.

“By the end of the semester, hopefully, we will have labels with QR codes [for the plants] and you can scan it,” Fung said. “It will go to a page that will tell you the connection to Chumash, or Indigenous people, or any additional usages for those plants.”

Students of all majors are welcome in the garden, and once a month, on Saturday, the SEEd garden accommodates volunteers who want to help. 

 Fung said the SEEd project team had a movie night where they watched “Over the Garden Wall,” and they hope to continue with this event on Dec. 2, where the team will be screening “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” free of charge but donations are welcome.