Even though many local health and agriculture community groups can’t hold big events because of the coronavirus pandemic, they’re still at work, encouraging people to eat and grow vegetables.
“We have seen such incredible increase in demand for local produce and also food donations and distribution,” said Sara Bernal, a program manager with the Center for Land-Based Learning.
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That’s why her organization along with Kaiser Permanente, the Latino Leadership Council, La Familia, Health Education Council and Soil Born Farms are bringing the farm to families through healthy garden kits the groups assemble and distribute to those most in need of nourishment.
The kits include vegetables — vibrant-in-color and flavor, fruits — grown at local farms, and “starts,” so people can plant their own healthy gardens.
“Everybody benefits from eating more fresh food,” said Bernal, who hopes the kits offer healthy inspiration to those who receive them. “That’s really our goal… to introduce the concepts and ingredients of fresh eating, and maybe not even introduce it, but just reinvigorate the enthusiasm for eating fresh fruits and vegetables.”
Doctors agree, saying programs like this spark important conversations about how good nutrition has a positive effect on overall health.
“It’s also a step towards looking at what creates diabetes in certain demographics and how can we impact that, heart disease all of the things that we do very well,” said Kaiser Permanente Physician in Chief, Dr. Rob Azevedo. “This just enhances that, but for our community, not just for our Kaiser Permanente members.”
The groups identified 150 older adults and families that could benefit from the kits which include the following items:
- Measured potting soil
- Fabric grow bag
- Plant starts
- Growing instructions
- Ready-to-eat fresh produce
- Recipes that incorporate produce in kit
Three different kits have been distributed to recipients over a six-week period — a welcome surprise to the seniors at the Davis Migrant Center, according to center manager Roberto Guevara.
“Most of these families just have one income and it’s a very low income,” said Guevara. “They were very grateful to be receiving this kind of stuff.”
The program is promoting an interest in eating healthier in the process of helping recipients grow the healthy food that will help them do just that.
“I can think of no other time in our history that it isn’t more important that we come together support each other and really create wellness in our communities,” said Azevedo.
The organizations also encourage novice gardeners to flex their green thumbs, reminding people that you don’t need a big backyard to get your garden growing. A flower pot on a front porch or apartment balcony is a good start.
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