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Community Gardens Thrive in St. Clair County

It starts with a few seeds, some soil and a simple container.
That’s all it takes to start a garden that can provide fresh fruit and vegetables to a home or community and educate families on healthy eating.
All over St. Clair County, organizations like the St. Clair County Health Department, East Side Health District, City of O’Fallon, St. Clair County Associated Vocational Enterprises Inc., (SAVE) and many others are growing community gardens.
At the St. Clair County Health Department, health.co.st-clair.il.us , Staff Nurse Dawn Shaw and Mary Galvin, Clinical Services Nursing Manager, started a community garden for children to pick vegetables and parents to learn healthy eating habits.
“We are trying to decrease the childhood obesity rate by introducing kids to fresher options other than driving through for fast food,” said Ms. Shaw.

Obesity has been established as a priority in St. Clair County as part of a comprehensive community health assessment of needs and five year community health plan developed by the St. Clair County Health Care Commission in fulfillment of the Illinois Department of Public Health 2011 Community Health Plan.

“Part of the community garden experiences is learning where fruit and vegetables come from and how easy it is to garden at home,” Ms. Shaw said.

The Health Department garden includes strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, blackberries, spinach, beans, cauliflower, peppers and peanuts.

In East St. Louis, two community gardens are in bloom and providing fresh vegetables and education to local families.

Food Raised at East Side Health District (F.R.E.S.H.) Community Teaching Garden, winner of the 2012 Gov-ernor’s Hometown Award, supports the community garden movement by inspiring citizens to volunteer in the garden and/or start their own. The garden, which sits on the site of an abandoned parking lot, also empowers residents to fill in the gaps in their groceries with healthy fruits and vegetables, according to the East Side website at www.eshd.org

“We started a whole garden movement down here,” said Elizabeth Patton-Whiteside, executive director of East Side Health District. “We have a group of citizens who are putting community gardens in various neigh-borhoods because of what we’ve done here.”

The Jones Park Community Garden & Greenhouse has a variety of fresh fruit and vegetables that are grown and sent to other community gardens.

The O’Fallon Garden Club, in cooperation with the City Parks and Recreation Department, has a community garden located at the corner of State and Smiley Streets. The garden provides opportunities for education, net-working and resources, according to the website at www.ofallon.org Part of the harvest goes to the O’Fallon Food Pantry.

Volunteers for the St. Clair Associated Vocational Enterprises Inc., (SAVE) started a community garden for SAVE residents. www.saveorg.org The garden provides fruit and vegetables such as tomatoes, lettuce, water-melon and peppers for SAVE residents.
You can grow your own garden. To learn how visit www.urbanext.illinois.edu/veggies/

For more information contact Marilyn Vise 618-825-4401.

MV 6/10/2013

Blog Archives

F.R.E.S.H. Community Garden 2016-11-23     Published 2016-11-23

St John United Church of Christ Garden 2016-11-22     Published 2016-11-22

Make Health Happen Working to Improve Food Access 2016-11-21     Published 2016-11-21

2015 Garden Grant Awards 2015-04-19     Published 2015-04-19

2014 Garden Grant Awards 2014-06-26     Published 2014-06-26

2014 Clean Air Bookmark Contest 2014-05-25     Published 2014-05-25

O'Fallon Community Garden 2013-08-30     Published 2013-08-30

Clean Air Bookmark Contest 2013-06-15     Published 2013-06-15

Biggest Loser 2013-03-01     Published 2013-03-01

Belleville City Health Fair 2009-06-01     Published 2009-06-01