Gardening for Health: A New Approach to Community Services
SCRANTON, Pa., June 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- In a novel approach to wellness, many public service agencies are developing "gardening for health" programs for some unlikely participants. Students, seniors, the handicapped, and even the homeless are discovering that container gardening offers an easy way to become more active and eat more healthfully.
Many gardening for health programs (http://www.earthbox.com/community-what-we-have-done) are being implemented with the help of the Education and Community Gardening Department of container gardening manufacturer EarthBox®.
The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chenango County, NY encourages residents to eat healthfully, save money and increase physical activity through the Grow, Cook, Eat program. Participants receive a community garden plot or an EarthBox container gardening system, along with a gardening mentor and classes on gardening, nutrition, food preservation and physical fitness.
The EarthBox systems make "gardening for health" practical for everyone, regardless of physical challenges or location. The container garden boxes are raised for those with mobility issues, and they can be placed anywhere there's sun, from patios to parking lots. Using commercial potting mix eliminates digging, and plastic mulch covers eliminate weeding.
Notes Stacie Edick, Community Gardens Coordinator, "The EarthBoxes make gardening easy for everyone, so it's more likely to remain a part of their lives."
In Garfield, NJ, the Health Department's Food for Thought: Healthy Living project installed EarthBox gardens in city parks, schools and at other public buildings. The gardens serve as a springboard to programs teaching health, nutrition, and physical fitness to schoolchildren and seniors alike.
"The hands-on program really engages the community," remarks Garfield's public health nurse, Darleen Reveille. "Instead of lecturing people on what they should do, this makes the whole process fun."
Some produce from the Garfield gardens is donated to Meals With a Mission, a volunteer organization that delivers 100,000 meals per year to shelters and needy families.
On a rooftop in downtown Los Angeles, another EarthBox garden feeds occupants of the rescue mission below. A 12th grader spearheaded that project by partnering with medical students from Charles Drew University, who do part of their medical training at the UCLA School of Nursing Health Center located at the Union Rescue Mission on Skid Row.
Together, the medical students, doctors, high schoolers, and children and adults experiencing homelessness planted the rooftop garden to provide fresh produce to the Mission, which serves over 2,000 meals per day. Union Rescue Missions' CEO Rev. Andy Bales observes, "Our rooftop garden is a life-line to many people experiencing homelessness on the streets of Skid Row."
"There's no easier way to promote public health," adds EarthBox's Education Director Molly Philbin, "All you need is a little sun and some imagination."
The patented EarthBox was introduced in 1994 after a decade of research by commercial farmers looking for a maintenance-free way to grow in ideal conditions. Since then, the EarthBox has been used in home gardens, commercial farms, schools and restaurants around the world. For more information, visit www.earthbox.com.
Frank DiPaolo, General Manager