Inchelium Red Garlic is a little-known variety, and many people are not aware of the history of this variety. It is the oldest strain of garlic grown in North America. It originated on the Colville Confederated Tribes Reservation, in the community of Inchelium, Washington. It was growing in Inchelium far before the arrival of English settlers, in the 1700’s.

Fall is the perfect time to plant garlic!  Garlic needs to be planted in the fall for a July/August harvest in the following year. Colville

Reservation WSU Extension took advantage of this opportunity to provide an event to re-introduce the Inchelium Red garlic variety back to the community and revitalize this native food!

Colville Reservation WSU Extension received a $75,000 grant from Native American Agriculture Fund (NAAF). The title of the grant is “Healthy Food for Healthy Generations”. This grant focuses on providing outreach education about healthy traditional foods. What better way to generate interest in growing food than to re-introduce the garlic variety that originated here and is native to the local communities! As knowledge of the Inchelium Red garlic is limited, to help re-energize and re-invigorate the garlic on the Colville Reservation. This will provide an opportunity for reservation residents to explore growing garlic and, also, reap the health benefits from eating a more localized strain of garlic. 

To distribute the garlic, two drive-thru events were held: One in Nespelem, WA on October 29; and one in Inchelium, Wa on November 3.  A short survey was provided to each participant. Once survey was completed, participants received a bag containing a garlic bulb, a handout with planting and care instructions, information outlining health benefits of garlic, and recipes and cooking instructions. 

“This project has been very well received,” stated Linda McLean, Director for Colville Reservation WSU Extension. She went on to say, “From our marketing campaign, we received inquiries from as far away as Kansas, Arizona, Canada, and from across Washington state.”

As a result of these drive-thru events, one hundred seventy-nine (179) people received bulbs of Inchelium Red Garlic. Each bulb averages 12 cloves, and when planted, each clove will produce a new bulb. This should equate to a harvest of 2,148 bulbs or approximately 480lbs of garlic in the 2021 garden season.

McLean went on to speak about the economic opportunities that could be associated with growing garlic. “Inchelium Red is not largely grown commercially. This is a prime income opportunity for beginning farmers/ranchers to develop a crop that is unique to the Colville Reservation. They could market through farmers markets or sell direct market to restaurants or grocery stores. There is also another option for Native producers. They could connect with Intertribal Agriculture Council (IAC) https://www.indianag.org/americanindianfoods to work with the American Indian Foods program  and possibly develop their garlic product as Made/Produced by American Indians.”

If you would like more information on this or other Extension programs, please contact Linda McLean, Colville Reservation WSU Extension Director, (509) 634-2305 or ljmclean@wsu.edu . Extension programs and employment are available to all without discrimination. Evidence of noncompliance may be reported through your local Extension office. 

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