Do you know what a food desert is? Food deserts are defined as urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Instead of supermarkets and grocery stores, these communities may have no food access or are served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores that offer few healthy, affordable food options. A community garden not only offers produce to the locals but it also teaches children how our food is grown to provide for us. These are skills that are being lost in our younger generations as we rely on technology more and more. But consumers are becoming more aware of their health and realizing that the fast food and over processed foods are hurting our future generations.
Some hard statistics to digest.
- According to the CDC 9 in 10 children don't eat enough vegetables.
- 49 million Americans, including 15.8 million children live in food insecure households. (Feeding America)
- 23 million Americans live in low-income and rural neighborhoods more than a mile from the nearest supermarket. (Let’s Move)
- Your zip code is a greater indicator of your health and longevity than your genetic code. (CDC)
This is a community garden that the Boys and Girls Club of Atlanta has in the heart of the city. This garden is a salsa garden which grows everything you need to make salsa. Tomatoes, peppers, onions and herbs. When the garden has produced enough vegetables the club has a salsa party to celebrate. The kids learn about the full growing process and can even teach their parents how to grow their own gardens at home.
We have our own garden at home. Over the years it's gotten bigger and bigger and we've had successful crops and some that didn't do as well. But each year we grow crops that we can eat for months. If something were to happen to us financially I know that my husbands green thumb will help us. A simple container garden can do well also.
Find a garden in your neighborhood at American Community Gardening Association. You can get your children involved if you don't have the room in your own yard. It will teach them more than just gardening. They will learn to help others and if the community garden sells at a farmers market they will learn about business as well.
The Aetna Foundation seeks to fund the creation and expansion of innovative approaches to make community gardens, urban farms and farmers markets available to vulnerable communities. They are offering grants to non-profit and community organizations with 501 (c)(3) status, and state and local government agencies are eligible to apply.
Programs must include one of the following:
- Nutrition education or cooking classes focused on the health benefits of fresh produce
- Growth or distribution of produce that reflects the food traditions of the target area
- Opportunities to learn job skills or entrepreneurship within the context of gardens, farms or farmers markets
- Opportunities for community service or volunteer work with the project
Proposal deadline: May 6, 2015 at 5 p.m. ET
Visit AetnaFoundation.org to learn more about the GoLocal: Cultivating Healthy Communities Grants and how you can get involved.