Mapping Our Journey toward Healthy Eating
In this blog, we share what PROCEED, INC. is doing in creating a “culture of health” amongst community residents, targeting population identified as high-risk for nutrition-related chronic diseases. The impetus to start a school garden came from the pre-school teachers and the family success staff members. The teachers wanted to expose young minds to the world of living things, capturing the concept of growing foods into science lesson plans, while exposing young children and families to healthy eating habits. The family success staff found clients loved the idea of working with plants in the school garden. The serenity of plants contributed toward their mental and physical health.
In an urban environment where space is at a premium, we took three parking spaces in our back lot and turned it into our school fruit and vegetable garden. We followed the primary gardening instinct of having access to water and sunlight to make things grow. The helping hands to set up the garden was provided by youths from our youth program, staff members and parent committee members of the family success center. We bought planters from a gardening center, chose organic soil for the garden, and made daily forays to gardening center to select vegetables and herbs for the garden. We planted saplings of tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers, sweet potatoes, lettuces, and variety of herbs in the garden. There were moments of stress with a runaway raccoon in our garden, the tomatoes refused to grow, and green peppers were a favorite of the birds. With expert advice from 4-H we persisted; our tomatoes are growing and we plan to preserve the green peppers and herbs in oil in small bottles and share the beauty of growing foods with our community. We are getting ready to grow winter vegetables for fall.
The program is supported by funding from Atlantic Health System as part of the New Jersey Healthy Communities Network.
About the Grantee
The mission of PROCEED, Inc. is to provide and connect people to educational, health and human services; and enhance the capacity of other organizations to offer quality program and services to their communities.