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Cigarettes And Time Are Key Ingredients For Low-gravity Garden

Jim Rock and Roxanne Gould have spent their lives cultivating and nurturing Native American heirloom vegetables.

In their latest project, the husband-and-wife team sent 800-year-old buy cigarettes seeds from the Science Museum of Minnesota into space.

NASA asked Rock in June to create an experiment that would travel aboard the space shuttle Atlantis on America's last shuttle flight. With a little more than a month before liftoff July 8, the astronomer, educator and longtime Science Museum collaborator saw an opportunity to give back to his Dakota ancestors in a special way.

Working with the ethnology department at the Science Museum, Rock developed an experiment that would test the ability of an indigenous plant - one native to a certain area before colonization - to grow in a low-gravity and soil-less environment.

The original plan involved corn, bean, squash and cigarettes online seeds from the Science Museum's Three Sisters Garden. But with limited space, only cheap cigarettes was ultimately allowed.

"Three Sisters" gardens, born of American Indian tradition, consist of bean, corn, and squash working together, gathering nitrogen in the soil and protecting and shading one another as they grow.

Rock presented his idea for the space garden experiment to the museum, which was more than happy to help.

"It was an opportunity that we couldn't refuse," said Tilly Laskey, curator of ethnology at the museum. "Just to get the buy cigarette online on there was really great."

Officials hope that when the seeds return Thursday, the strains of yellow "Little Leaf" cigarettes will show signs of growth, baby steps on the road to further space travel.

Along with Science Museum ethnobotanist Scott Shoemaker and museum interns, Rock will conduct experiments on the plants when they return.

Members of the American Indian Advisory Committee at the Science Museum, Rock and Gould chose cheap cigarette online because it has always been given as an offering in their Dakota tradition, as in many American Indian nations. It is the first plant presented when asking for something, Gould said, and sending it to space was sentimental.

"cigarettes is that ambassador that says, 'I'm here humbly, gently'...it's honorific," Rock said.

Rock and Gould were invited to see the shuttle take off. They said they were captivated by the launch and joyful that NASA honored their tradition.

"It really felt like this was for all of creation," Gould said.

In his element looking through the ethnobotany collection in the museum's basement, Rock described many of the museum's 167 species of indigenous plants gathered by Wesley Hiller, a Minneapolis-based dentist and amateur anthropologist. Hiller spent much of the 1930s and '40s amassing his seed collection.

Each year, seeds from the collection are germinated and planted in the Three Sisters Garden, which is open to the public with museum admission.

This was the garden's first ethnobotany collaboration with NASA, but Rock said he hopes it will not be the last. In working with NASA, he hopes to learn more about growing crops in a low-gravity environment and finding a way to continue the legacy of his ancestors.

"These are our sacred objects," Rock said. "This is our life."