The Healthy Harvest Community Garden was recognized as the winner of the Interdisciplinary Program Award by Virginia Cooperative Extension at the VESA Virtual Annual Meeting.
The garden began in March 2018 with the Virginia Department of Health with grant and support from Southern Virginia Botanical Gardens, Abbott Farm Supply, Berry Hill Irrigation, Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital, Virginia Cooperative Extension, local businesses, churches, individuals and other volunteers in the organization.
During his three years (2018-20), the efforts of everyone involved produced 900 pounds. In 2020, there was a substantial increase of over 2,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables. The distribution in 2021 reached 5,000 households in need with more than 600 adults, 200 young people and more than 200 seniors eating better thanks to the efforts of the garden. In year four of this effort, more than 4,786 pounds of product had been distributed from the spring, summer and fall vegetable and fruit crop. Through the efforts of the chair of the steering committee to recruit and retain local church volunteers in the community, waste was minimized by providing more fresh and healthy produce.
The garden also offers an internship program for eight or 10 high school students, who provide a minimum of 75 hours of community service, during the months of June, July and August, while learning and following a program that would develop them for further future careers and opportunities. in agriculture.
The Halifax Virginia Cooperative Extension Family Nutrition Program offered four different free sessions, consisting of eight sets of lessons in nutrition courses and discussions on FNP’s family nutrition advice. The South Virginia Botanical Gardeners as well as the Master Gardeners provided technical assistance, with all three holding a role on the steering committee and volunteer hours in the garden. The garden gave attendees the opportunity to experience community engagement in community gardening and spark interest in the future.
For the past four years, the garden has allowed young people to try new, fresh vegetables in a program called the ‘The Power to Produce (POP) Program’ sponsored by South Boston Farmers’ Markets and d ‘Halifax. Educate young people from an early age on how to taste vegetables and consume vegetables that they have not tried and teach them how to budget for the purchase of local products at the farmers market with the 20 incentives they receive for tasting different vegetables.