Yesterday, the Norwalk Health Department and UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) hosted a harvest party celebrating the families who completed the Growing Gardens, Growing Health Program at Fodor Farm. Growing Gardens, Growing Health is a multi-component program including gardening instruction and lessons on nutrition and cooking.
Health Department staff and volunteer Master Gardeners held gardening lessons over the summer at Fodor Farm and assigned each family a garden plot. In June, with the help of Master Gardeners, families planted seeds and plants provided by the program. Each week, the Master Gardeners provided instruction and answered gardening-related questions. Families maintained of their assigned plot throughout the summer, including watering, weeding, and pruning their plants.
In addition, EFNEP staff taught bi-weekly virtual nutrition and cooking lessons, focused on teaching families cost-efficient and easy ways to prepare healthy, kid-friendly meals. Children got involved helped their parents during both nutrition and gardening. During the party on Monday, families harvested the fruits and vegetables they grew, shared in some healthy treats, and received certificates recognizing their achievement in completing the program.
The US Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends gardening in combination with nutrition education for children. Studies suggest that these practices together increase children’s vegetable consumption. The more hands-on children are with gardening and preparing healthy foods, the more likely they are to eat these foods.
The Growing Gardens, Growing Health program is funded through grants from the CT Department of Public Health and the UConn Extension EFNEP Program. The program is made possible through a partnership with the City of Norwalk Department of Recreation and Parks, who manages Fodor Farm.