Tradition with a Vision: A Community Garden Initiative in Caswell County

About the Author

CED Guest Author

Alice Ammerman is a professor in the UNC School of Public Health. Marian Sadler is a UNC graduate student in Public Health. Both are CCP small grant recipients working in Caswell County.

The inter-generational garden project seeks to engage youth and seniors in Yanceyville through the design and maintenance of a community garden. The wheel-chair accessible garden will be located at the Caswell County Senior Center, allowing seniors to work actively with approximately twenty five Dillard Middle School students through the Caswell County Partnership for Children.

This pilot initiative is primed to have a positive effect on social support in the community and promote better overall health. Similar initiatives have resulted in an individual’s increased intake and willingness to try new fruits and vegetable, increased social support and a decrease in crime, and increased education and physical activity. Senior-youth teams provide mentorship that Yanceyville youth have mentioned as lacking in their community, and interaction desired by seniors.

While we wait for prime growing season to begin again in the spring, there will be many additional winter-ready activities to kick off the program. The youth will be invited to participate in a community garden field visit as they start to imagine how they will design their own garden. This will be held at Anathoth Garden, a community garden in Cedar Grove that also coordinates a teen gardening program that could inspire our participants. The seniors are invited to attend a planning session at the Senior Center with a Landscape Architect to design the new raised beds. A fellowship cooking class and dinner at the Yancey House restaurant will bring together youth, parents, seniors, and other community partners to get a taste of what they will be growing themselves.

Sandra Hudspeth and Tyrone Graham of the Caswell County Partnership for Children are the project’s main community partners and will coordinate the youth’s involvement. Senior members have offered to coordinate broad involvement from the senior center.

This pilot project is expected to span four months. This month, the team has been collecting data for an evaluation to inform future garden efforts locally and beyond. Moving into 2011, we will be meeting with the youth on a regular basis to provide them with educational hands-on gardening experience. This will include many types of lessons, all depending on the interest and talents of the youth and seniors. For example, January’s lessons currently include a demonstration on composting and vermaculture to show how food waste can be turned into valuable material for growing delicious vegetables. As the season warms up in the spring, we look forward to experimenting with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in the garden to maximize exposure and interest in these foods.

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