Filmmaker to show healing power of gardensA piece of East Grand Forks (Minn.) Central Middle School ground will be a part of a Winnipeg-produced television show. Canadian producer-filmmaker Coleen Rajotte was in East Grand Forks on Friday to produce a segment for “Vitality Gardening,” a program that features information about growing healthy food in a variety of climates and then using it for meals and medicinal purposes.
By: By Ann Bailey , Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
A piece of East Grand Forks (Minn.) Central Middle School ground will be a part of a Winnipeg-produced television show.
Canadian producer-filmmaker Coleen Rajotte was in East Grand Forks on Friday to produce a segment for “Vitality Gardening,” a program that features information about growing healthy food in a variety of climates and then using it for meals and medicinal purposes.
Rajotte and her husband, John Bronevitch, “Vitality Gardening” director of photography, filmed the East Grand Forks Middle School butterfly garden and native prairie. Rajotte plans to use footage from both in an upcoming episode on the preservation of grassland.
“Vitality Gardening” airs on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network in Winnipeg and will be shown on Prairie Public television (KGFE in Grand Forks and Fargo) on Sundays at 1 p.m. starting Aug. 15.
Rajotte, a former CBC journalist, was the first Aboriginal woman on network news and reported on stories across Canada for several years. She began her career as an independent producer in 1999, and, in 2006, created a television showed called “Vitality” targeted at an Aboriginal audience and featuring information on healthy living.
The native way
During production of “Vitality,” Rajotte developed an interest in plants, especially those that could be used for healing. Her interest led to creation of “Vitality Gardening,” which gives gardening information from an indigenous perspective.
Rajotte, who is of Cree and Metis heritage, consults with Aboriginal garden experts to produce Vitality Gardening. Past episodes have included planting a mound garden, using natural pest control and growing a medicine garden.
Before producing “Vitality Gardening,” Rajotte had never had a garden and knew little about wild plants. That’s changed now as she’s dug up the front and backyards at her Winnipeg home and turned them into gardens, and she’s produced episodes on plants and gardens from northern Canada to Mexico. Rajotte not only is familiar with how to grow things, but also how her ancestors used them.
She also shares her knowledge off-camera. During her visit to East Grand Forks on Friday, she explained to Central Middle School teacher Teri Hammerback that the sage in the butterfly garden could be burned. Then she pointed to hyssop, another plant in the butterfly garden.
“The leaves can be picked, dried and put into tea,” Rajotte said. Rajotte offered to return to Central Middle School after school resumes this fall and share her native plant knowledge with Hammerback’s students.
Hammerback enthusiastically accepted the offer. She told Rajotte that the butterfly garden is a valuable teaching tool that is literally in the school’s backyard.
“I can go out here anytime I want to. I don’t have to get buses and pay for the buses. It’s made my life a little richer and my teaching a little better,” she said. “It’s just a very nice and calming place to be.”
Ann Bailey is a reporter at the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.