Harvesting the Native Plant Garden

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Harvesting the Native Plant Garden

The Henry Madden Library at Fresno State features a design inspired by traditional basket weaving, a tribute to local Native American culture and the Table Mountain Rancheria tribe that donated $10 million to the expansion and remodel of the library in 2008. The theme can be seen throughout the building, including in the striking five-story Table Mountain Rancheria Tower, which symbolizes a twined cooking basket.

This unique basket theme extends to the Native Plant Garden, just outside the tower and north of the library’s main entrance. This no-irrigation, organic garden features river sage, redbud trees, deer grass and other critical ingredients in the basket weaving process. Names of the plants and tools are etched into the granite walls in three languages: Mono, Gashow and English.

Every winter volunteers from Table Mountain Rancheria visit the Fresno State campus to harvest these native plants to continue their tradition. Volunteers like Cristina Gonzales, the registrar assistant museum director for Table Mountain Rancheria and the Cultural Resources Center, interact with students and hope to educate them on the process.

“A lot of students do not know that these plants are edible and useful and everything,” Gonzales said. “We’re connected to everything.”

This semester, the Madden Library is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the building’s remodel and expansion. The Library reopened to the public with its new Native American basket theme on Feb. 19, 2009. Since then, the building has welcomed more than 12 million visitors and continues to be the cultural and intellectual center of Fresno State, where students can create, discover and grow.