The Nutrition Nook is a monthly column featuring nutrition information for healthy eating. This month we’ll hear from Denine, who writes HEPSA Living Healthy Online blog. Denine is the creator of the HEPSA Living Healthy Online blog and is the President of HEPSA Living Healthy with an extensive educational and practical background in the healthcare field. *Remember to consult your primary care physician or dietitian before beginning a new nutrition regimen.*
It is that time again to play in the dirt! April is National Garden Month where every community, organizations and individuals nationwide start to toil the soil and nurture their plants. Spring is the time to get rid of the old (such as weeds and hard clay soil) and bring in the new (such as compost – black gold and fresh organic plants). Since the recession has caused a strain in the wallet, there are more people who are now into planting and becoming involved in community gardens. This has saved people money by growing their own of fruits, vegetables and herbs. There are many ways that you can get into the spirit of starting a community garden. One way is doing a Multicultural Community Garden where you can plant different fruits, vegetables and herbs from around the world that are acceptable based on the planting zone that you live. To find out what plant zone you are in click here (http://www.garden.org/zipzone/) . It is also good to seek out neighbors from various ethnic groups to learn about their native cuisines and gardening techniques.
Your community garden group can plant a row for the hungry since there is an estimated 33 million Americans, including 13 million children, who resort to emergency foods because they cannot afford to purchase the food they need. Being a Volunteer Master Gardener, I was able to assist the local public library’s Master Gardener’s Vegetable Garden where we were able to donate weekly pounds of organic vegetable to the local soup kitchens. If every community garden in the United States was able to plant a row of vegetable and fruit for the hungry, what a huge difference it would make to every community.
Have you ever gone to the local garden store to find the “best plant” to purchase and take it home to find out that it was not? The best plants are not found in the local garden center or seed catalogs. Instead, the best plants are found by gatherings of quick cuttings or by collecting seeds from the communities’ gardens. To get these best plants, your neighborhood community garden can organized a plant swap event, which would encourage others to share their favorite plant specimens. You can also share cutting of one of your favorite landscape or house plants with your neighbors in the community.
Another way to gather neighbors, friends and family to participate in starting a community garden is to celebrate important “green” holidays such as Earth Day (April 22) and National Arbor Day (April 25). Earth Day is a celebration of green living where the community gardeners can learn about organic gardening, green landscaping and recycling. On National Arbor Day, the community gardeners can come together to plant trees to provide shade and landscape for the neighborhood areas.
Now that winter is finally gone and spring is here, try to make an effort to meet and greet your neighbors and start a community garden today. To learn more about gardening check out the Living Healthy Website: http://livinghealthy1.org/.