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“Food is Medicine; Medicine is Food”
May 14, 2014 Professional Journal

HERE AT NAVAJO COUNCIL HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMANS SERVICES COMMITTEE WHICH IS MEETING IN THE NAVAJO COUNCIL CHAMBER IN WINDOW ROCK, ARIZ.

THE FIRST ITEM ON THE HEHS COMMITTEE AGENDA WAS A REPORT FROM NEW MEXICO STATE UNIVERSITY ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF HORTICULTURE DR. KEVIN LOMBARD ON HEALTHY GARDENS/HEALTH LIVES: NAVAJO PERCEPTIONS OF GROWING FOOD LOCALLY TO PREVENT DIABETES AND ALSO ON ITS CANCER PROJECT: A FOCUS GROUP STUDY THAT SURVEYED PARTICIPANTS ON THEIR OPINIONS ON GARDENING IN THE NAVAJO WAY. (I ARRIVED A FEW MINUTES LATE TO THE MEETING BECAUSE I WAS COMING FROM THE NAVAJO NATION LABOR COMMISSION HEARING. I OBTAINED A COPY OF DR. LOMBARD’S REPORT, WHICH I’LL GET SCANNED AND THEN I’LL POST.)

NM STATE UNIVERSITY, WHICH HAS A BRANCH IN FARMINGTON, NM, IS HOSTING AN “AGRICULTURAL FIELD DAY & OPEN HOUSE” ON FRIDAY, JULY 25, 2014, FROM 8:30 A.M. TO WHENEVER INTRODUCTIONS AND EXHIBITS END. The field day starts with Registration at 8:30 a.m., a field tour at 10 a.m., BBQ at noon, and Introductions and Exhibits begin at 12:45 p.m. The Healthy Gardens/Healthy Lives Project is located in the NM State University Agricultural Science Center, 300 Road 4063, Farmington, NM. For information, contact NMSU ASC, Farmington, 505-960-7757, http://farmingtonsc.nmsu.edu and NMSU SJC CE, Aztec, NM, 505-334-9496

According to Dr. Lombard’s report, Diabetes is a leading cause of death in the U.S. and the treatment, lost of work and premature mortality costs about $173 billion annually. On the Navajo Nation, data from 1937 showed that 1 person in 6,000 had diabetes. In 2007, data showed Type 2 diabetes was high and that fruit and vegetable consumption is low.

Dr. Lombard reported that gardens and small farms were once part of a healthy lifestyle. “Food is medicine; Medicine is Food.” He noted that the consumption of fruit and vegetables reduced the risk of disease. The recommended serving of fruits and vegetables is 5-9 servings per day.

Dr. Lombard reported that a Ramah chapter community member said, “I think with the extra movement, hoeing, weeding, it would be good exercise, although it would be healthier to eat more fruit and vegetables.”

He said that other attitudes about gardening were that gardening was important in the past but that some youth don’t feel that gardening as a top priority. Others were very interested in gardening.

Dr. Lombard identified some barriers to gardening that includes lack of water, poor quality water, poor soil, wind, need for technical assistance, land tenure and space to garden, desire to avoid disputes, mobility of elders, and lack of tools and equipment.

He said that some of the suggestions from community people for way to learn about gardening were elders as a source of information, visual and demonstration-based learning, multimedia as a way of learning, chapter houses as a source of information, classes for children and parents as role models, and school gardens.

HEALTH, EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICE COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSON JONATHAN HALE
Does NM State University help with soil samples to find out if soil lacking in nutrients for proper farming? Do you work with community and home gardens?
DR. LOMBARD
I hired assistant and having her develop brouchure. Disappointed that people don’t know that NM State University is proving education on farming.
HALE
Communities have some equipment and funds to rent large farming equipment, which would be used to help community people work with NM State University to improve diet and return to farming. And the Navajo Nation Council recently approved health food initiative. So we need education from NM State University to provide about life style change that involves exercise and right to grow food because proposed Range Land Management Act, which will also impact how communities and community people use land for farming.
DR. LOMBARD
I am fairly new and I am getting information out that this is service provided by NM State University. I feel privileged to be here to speak to policy makers and I have children and I support your statements, Mr. Chairperson.

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