From your garden to your table...
Regardless of your budget and the community in which you live, you can eat well on any budget when your monthly food costs are cut in half. Imagine paying less at the grocery store and adding a selection of nutritious food directly from your garden or farmer's market, straight to your family's table.
Family and community gardens or regular visits to a farmers market, can be the beginning of a more healthier lifestyle. These choices are also very beneficial to the environment. The implementation of a community garden or either of the other options, may be impactful in the reduction of lower-quality veggies and fruits that are more likely than not, prevalent in low-income rural and urban area grocery stores. This allows residents greater access to nutritious food, that's necessary for a healthier lifestyle. These types of healthier food options can lessen some of the dietary problems that plague rural and urban communities. Problems like adult and childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood-pressure and other diet related health concerns.
In addition, increased physical activity or exercise, diet and nutritional education, which is also essential, can be very beneficial to an entire communities (and more so to lower-income arears) by:
Helping to improve air and soil quality.
Reducing the mileage and transportation expense to obtain nutritious food.
Reducing neighborhood waste through composting.
Strengthening community ties.
Creating a more sustainable healthy lifestyle.
Improving dietary habits through education and exercise.
Increasing fruit and vegetable intake.
Significantly reducing typical health related illnesses diagnosed most often in the low-income community.
Social ties are important to the well-being of people in a community, since they can bring positive health effects and community involvement. Community/family gardens and shopping the local farmer's market, allow for the creation of communal social ties and building a greater connection among residents. These connections may help reduce crime, empower and allow residents to feel safer in their own neighborhoods, especially in urban settings.
Gardens in urban areas are positively correlated with decreased crime rates.
Vacant land can lead to crime which can negatively impact the health of residents.
Residents in areas with high crime rates may experience for instance, cardiovascular disease and mental health disorders, etc.
The consequences of vacant lands are decreased property values, increased drug use, and the illegal dumping of hazardous materials.
Gardens can improve economic opportunities by training volunteers and selling food at farmer's market or area grocery stores.
Urban and rural community agriculture can provide residents with useful skills in planning, food production and even business opportunities.
Gardens have been an important aspect of many cultures in history. Recently, there has been a resurgence of community and family gardens to help mitigate the impacts of food deserts and as a use for the increased number of vacant land present, in the community. Community and family gardens can provide fresh, healthy produce for residents and allow them to reduce their food expenses.
Many cities and organizations provide opportunities for residents to become involved with community gardens. There are also many federal and state government programs that are provided to stem the problems associated with food deserts in rural and urban communities. Funding and opportunities to address rural health issues in Louisiana is available thru RHIhub. Additionally beneficial is, researching federal government programs implemented to help decrease the lack of available nutritious food selections in low-income communities. These state and federal programs are designed to provide long-term food security by supporting local agricultural projects, while also improving economic, social and environmental problems. For the success of this type of program, it is important that the community becomes involved with the project and to work with the community to develop actual solutions. Soil contamination and land purchase can become a challenge in implementing a community garden, especially in more urban settings. Whereas, community or family gardens and shopping the farmer's market may be easier options in rural communities.