A passion for traditional plants and foods

by Gail Julius, NWIC Traditional Plants & Foods employee

My name is Gail Julius, my mother is Vela (Julius) Kamkoff & my grandparents were Vela (Jefferson) Trouse and Haynes Julius. Vanessa Cooper is the child of Jena (Julius) Ostrand and Jim Ostrand (we have the same grandparents) and is the coordinator and educator for Northwest Indian College’s Traditional Plants & Food Program. I write to you, my community, on behalf of the NWIC Traditional Plants & Food Program (part of NWIC’s Cooperative Extension Office).

I am excited to be introducing this program to you through the experience I have had over the past seven months. In this time, I have become aware of and re-introduced myself to what traditional plants and foods mean to me, and have been able to incorporate these diets into my family meals.

I very much enjoy working with a number of families that have been with this program for the last couple of years. They bring a lot to the program through their willingness to make changes to their lifestyles, and by sharing the creative and delicious recipes they derive from donations of fresh fruits and vegetables grown by local farmers.

Currently, we support 25 Lummi families through the Traditional Plants & Food Program, with:

  • Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs)
  • cooking classes
  • traditional plant harvests
  • hands-on classes on diabetes prevention and herbal medicine, lip balm and aromatherapy making
  • all-around preventive health care through plants and foods

This project is designed to share knowledge among Lummi families, and we will therefore be developing a Lummi Cook Book based solely on recipes from families that have been involved in this project, The book will also include their experiences and their journies to wellness.

Vanessa Cooper is an amazing educator; she is passionate about her work and does an excellent job at captivating her audience in all of her classes. Through her, I have become passionate as well and look forward to learning more.

We would like to invite the Lummi Community to share our passion and become a part of the growing trend in Indian Country: strive to become self-sufficient, own our wellness, and get back to our roots. Join us in the journey to health and wellness.

For more information, contact Vanessa Cooper at (360) 392-4343 or vcooper@nwic.edu, or contact Gail Julius at (360) 595-4396 or gjulius@nwic.edu.