Increasing Inclusivity in the New Year
With a new year comes new goals and expectations in growing closer to desired outcomes. In 2021 thus far, the Ocean County Health Department has expanded its partners for the community garden project at the Toms River Field of Dreams. In preparation for construction of the garden to begin in the very near future, we also held a kickoff meeting with our Garden Design Committee. This committee is comprised of representatives from our partnering organizations. These individuals include representatives from residential and day programs, a local sustainability team with gardening experience, horticultural therapist, and individuals with disabilities as well.
During this meeting, many aspects of the garden design, accessibility, upkeep, and usability were discussed. The size and shape of garden beds as well as the placement of them were all relevant topics to ensure accessibility for all individuals. This conversation touched on signage at the gardens including braille and some gardens being brightly painted to assist individuals with impaired vision or blindness. Additionally, the types of vegetables and plants in the gardens were considered.
To ensure inclusivity and accessibility of our target population, the OCHD is determined to involve individuals from this population in each step of the planning process for this project. Multiple committees were formed in addition to the Garden Design Committee to provide insight on each aspect of this project. Individuals with disabilities will be involved in each of these committees. Some other committees associated with this project will include a Leadership Committee and a Marketing Committee. Within the next few weeks, we are hoping to have garden construction begin and see our plans come to life. In the meantime, we will continue the planning process in conjunction with our partners.
About the Grantee
In partnership with our community, we are committed to serving as a leader to promote healthy lifestyles, ensure a clean and safe environment, and provide high-quality public health services to protect our present and future generations.