Families Activas y Saludables/Families Active and Healthy (FAH)-Notes from OUR PATCH OF GREEN
Our fourth blog is about the green space, the school garden, a little green oasis, we have created at our agency, and the lessons we learned and still learning as urban gardeners! We are an urban agency located in midtown Elizabeth, holding every square foot of available space very dearly. Our vision of school garden for the Families Activas y Saludables/Families Active and Healthy grant, centered on “transforming” the concrete parking garage space at the back of the agency into a green space…we achieved that by taking three parking spots and planning our vegetable and herb garden in containers during Year 1. We worked with community youths to build the containers, prepare the soil, and plant herbs and vegetables. Along the way, we learned about bottom rots in tomatoes, harvesting and storing herbs, how to manage insects, shoo away our local tom cat, and prepare organic fertilizers. Armed with the lessons learned during Year 1, we started the “seeding” process in early April-May of this year.
Along with tomatoes and a variety of peppers, we planted squash, egg plants and a smorgasbord of herbs we use in cooking. To bring color to the garden, we planted marigolds and zinnias. We continue to build our partnership into Year 2 with Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County, 4H Youth Development Agent, as our educator and consultant on the school garden. Our vision of healthy eating rests on spreading awareness on healthy eating, making healthy food choices and on growing food in an urban environment. On July 17th and 24th, we hosted a “green therapy” program for the youths accessing our counseling programs. Along with their counselors, the youths were not only exposed to the green space, but learned on sprouting seeds, got introduced to succulent plants and herbs, and took sample herbs home for their home garden. For many of these youths, this was first time that they had worked in a garden, touched soil, smelled herbs!!
About the Grantee
PROCEED's Mission is to provide individuals, families, and other organizations with a comprehensive network of appropriate supportive and preventive social, health, capacity building, and community development services that are culturally and linguistically designed to reaffirm self-actualization and improve living standards for the community.