The Urban Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (USNAP-Ed) Community Gardening Project involves people in the gardening process. The gardens improve access and availability of fresh produce.
More importantly, the gardens give people confidence who are living in communities with limited resources. They have the confidence to take control of their health and make positive changes.
The community garden project began a pilot phase in 2016. The first full year of the program was 2017. It is part of our Policy, System and Environmental (PSE) change* efforts.
Participants planted cucumbers, collards, tomatoes, onions, green beans, zucchini, squash, corn, carrots, lettuce, peppers, and radish. The educators used the harvested produce in food demonstrations of healthy recipes, and to give to participants to replicate healthy recipes at home. A total of 889 pounds of produce was harvested and used within the homes of local families eligible for SNAP. Approximately 300 people have participated in the gardens so far.
USNAP-Ed staff provided nutrition lessons and coordinated garden efforts between the program and the sites. Alabama Cooperative Extension System Horticulture staff provided instruction and assistance establishing gardens, explaining gardening concepts, and monitoring garden development. Sustainability plans were implemented at 5 sites to continue the use of the garden.
”PSE change” means changing the policies, systems, or the environment in a community. The goal is to make the healthy choice the easy choice in communities. A few examples of PSE programs include community gardens, daycare food policies, or changing the retail purchasing experience of healthy foods.
This article was submitted by SNAP-Ed Agency, Alabama Cooperative Extension System, New and Nontraditional Programs Unit at Alabama A&M University.