Nutrition Gardens: Growing Healthy Children
“Rather than ‘give a man a fish, feed him for a day,’ this is a ‘teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime’ approach to solving a community need,” House of Hope CEO Rob Ranieri said.
The Nutrition Gardens will engage local youth with educational opportunities focused on gardening, healthy eating habits and career options.
- Lamar Howard Park, Fairmont Street, Golden Gate
- Project L.I.F.T., 34th St., Palm City
- Banner Lake Club, 12212 SE Lantana Ave., Hobe Sound
The Root Problem
Recent community assessment data shared by the Florida Department of Health in Martin County raised serious concern about high rates of childhood obesity and other chronic illnesses. Martin County has high levels of childhood obesity — more than 30% — and in certain economically challenged communities, that number is a high as 60%. Some of the same communities also have higher-than-normal rates for adult diabetes and have a general poor understanding of good nutrition and lack healthy eating habits.
In a concerted effort to reduce food insecurity, improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and promote healthy eating habits, House of Hope and select partners have developed a plan to create three nutrition gardens in targeted communities. The gardens will serve multiple purposes:
- To provide local youth with educational opportunities focused on gardening, healthy eating habits, and basic cooking instruction geared toward preparing healthy meals.
- To raise awareness of the link between nutrition and healthy eating to overall good health and development in children and adults.
- To increase access to healthy foods (fruits, vegetables, herbs) in order to combat the rising levels of childhood obesity and chronic diseases in Martin County.
- To provide additional fresh produce to food pantries and soup kitchens within the communities where the gardens are based.
- To connect children and families to local opportunities for health and nutrition education
- To allow children and families to assist in being part of a solution around local hunger and health issues.
- To teach local teens skills associated with the gardens, including planning, methods of gardening methods, and sales and marketing.
In addition to engaging volunteers, an agricultural coordinator will be hired to oversee the gardens, seek future sites, develop relationships in the agricultural community, and recruit new partners around the education and gardening aspects of the project.
“We believe this project will create a valuable learning environment for local youth as well as provide a supplemental food source in their communities,” Ranieri said.
Partners so far: Martin County Solid Waste, Martin County Office of Community Partnerships, Martin County Agricultural Extension Office, University of Florida/IFAS, Keep Martin Beautiful, The Banner Lake Club, Project LIFT, United Way of Martin County, Children’s Services Council, and the Florida Department of Health in Martin County.
Funding so far: $40,000 “seed money” received from an anonymous donor through the United Way of Martin County. $8,000 through Keep Martin Beautiful from the Lowe’s Community Improvement Grant.
How to Help
You can play a role in this transformational efforts through volunteering, offering in-kind materials and services, and providing monetary support.
For more information and to get involved, please contact House of Hope agricultural coordinator Laura Lyman at Laura@hohmartin.org or (772) 286-4673, ext. 1018