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Self Help Garden Club Teaches Adults About Healthy Eating

Posted by Monica David -

University of Illinois Extension Master Gardeners from Whiteside County recently won a 2015 state teamwork award for their "Self Help Garden Club".  This project serves developmentally disabled adults at the Self Help Enterprises in Sterling Illinois. The goals of the projects were to educate club members on food production and to increase their awareness of healthy eating.

In 2013, the volunteers worked with the adults to improve existing raised bed gardens and members learned how to amend soil, plant seeds, water and harvest.  With 14 participants and 8 raised beds garden club members grew tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, green beans, zucchini, lettuce, spinach and watermelon.

In an effort to address healthy eating habits and trying new foods, a care and cooking component was added in 2014. Working with the Extension Unit SNAP ED Community Worker the Master Gardeners and the participants developed monthly themed gardens focused on growing produce.  This included planting herbs and cool season crops. Food sampling was a popular addition as well as instruction on how to safely prepare and serve fresh produce from the garden.

Master Gardeners contributed over 149 hours over 2 years to this project. By the end of the second year of the project, all eighteen club members were trying new produce from the garden.  The success of the Self Help Garden Club has inspired the Master Gardeners to expand the program with Herb of the Month; Vegetable of the Month and Garden Talks.

For more information about the Whiteside County Master Gardeners visit http://web.extension.illinois.edu/clw/



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