Garden partnership promotes healthy eating
Family and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent
In the fall of 2015, Marion FFA chapter received a two acre parcel of land from the Marion school district with the intent to start a community garden. After months of grant writing, planning, and recruiting volunteers, the community garden was established.
The spring of 2016 was spent working the land and planting various kinds of produce. As the gardening season progressed, several volunteers along with the FFA chapter harvested produce including corn, potatoes, summer squash, beets, onions, and carrots. This produce was donated to Marion County Resource Center Food Bank.
In the fall of 2016, Marion County’s K-State Research and Extension Office received the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education grant. The goal of the grant is to provide nutrition education to individuals and families who receive food assistance or who are eligible to receive food assistance. We provided nutrition education through food demonstrations for people at the food bank.
The grant provided fiscal assistance to the community garden by purchasing plants and seedlings for the 2017 harvesting season. The produce purchased included tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, asparagus, strawberries, rhubarb, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, Swiss chard, squash, and sweet corn.
Volunteers Pam Byer and Gordon Malin assisted the FFA chapter in planting the seedlings and plants.
Two weeks ago, the community garden harvested the final crops of the season. The garden has played a major role in providing access to fresh produce for neighbors at the food bank. This year alone, the garden has donated more than 1,800 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. This is important because studies have shown that access to healthy foods plays a significant role in healthy eating habits for an individual’s overall health.
As the harvesting season comes to an end in the garden, it is a great time to think about how we as a community can continue to support access to healthy food at the food bank.
When donating food to a food bank, it is important to not just “clean out your cupboard” and donate the foods that you don’t want or can’t use anymore. Try donating foods that would fill a healthy and safe plate for the consumer.
Cash donations allow food banks to buy food in bulk much more cheaply than consumers and purchase items needed by their clients.
Give the gift of health this holiday season by providing nutrient-rich non-perishable food items to people in need. From now until Dec. 21, the extension office will be collecting healthful donations for the food bank.
Our office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at 202 S. 3rd St. in Marion. If you have any questions about healthful donations, please call our office at (620) 382-2325.
Last modified Nov. 23, 2017