Though invasive species and arid weather stifled agriculture significantly over the summer, a handful of volunteers were able to produce more than 3,000 pounds of vegetables for the St. Susan Soup Kitchen.
The Giving Gardens Program, an initiative led by Creating Healthy Places to Live Work and Play, asked local residents to grow a garden over the summer and donate the produce it yielded to St. Susan's. Though the program was in its first year, an unexpectedly large number of people participated. As a means of saying "thank you," Creating Healthy Places hosted a dinner for participants to attend Wednesday.
"We wanted to have this dinner tonight just to say 'thank you' to everyone and to get some ideas on what we could do better for next year," said Kerry Mihalko, healthy foods consultant for Creating Healthy Places. "Next year we would like to start a little bit earlier so we could have some spring crops too. So we're getting some ideas about what worked an what would be better."
Creating Healthy Places hosted a dinner for Giving Gardens Program participants Wednesday.
P-J photo by Remington Whitcomb
Volunteers who attended the dinner went on to discuss what they felt was successful about this year's program and what they believed would help to make the program better in the future.
"I think everything with the program worked out really well this year," said Christina Farnham. "There was no pressure as to when everything needed to be delivered to St. Susan's. I was able to bring the produce when I had business in Jamestown. The program provided cages to keep the gardens enclosed. The only thing I wish I could have done was grown more for the program, because I'm pretty sure I have extra space."
Farnham continued by commenting on how much she appreciated that the Giving Gardens program providing the seeds for the garden and that growing a garden for the program provided another opportunity to spend time with her family.
"The best advice that can be given to someone who would like to participate in the program next year is to laugh at your mistakes," said Frank Knapp. "This year I planted a pumpkin only a few inches away from a tomato plant thinking everything would be fine. Everyone will make a few mistakes, but the point of the gardens is to help feed those who have trouble feeding themselves, which the gardens achieve. It's nice that, on the side, it helps you learn how to become a better gardener through trial and error."
Creating Healthy Places to Live, Work, and Play is a NYS initiative to promote healthy lifestyles and prevent obesity and type 2 diabetes.
This initiative works to improve the health and physical activity status for New York communities by:
Increasing the availability and accessibility of places to be physically active.
Creating and maintaining community landscapes conducive to physical activity, such as playgrounds and walking trails.
Increasing the availability and accessibility of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Increasing the healthful quality of foods offered for sale at local restaurants and corner stores.
Those who are interested in how Creating Healthy Places is impacting Chautauqua County or how to help can find more information at www.cchn.net/home/tabid/123/Default.aspx.