The Norwalk Health Department recently held its fourth annual harvest party to celebrate another successful year of the Growing Gardens, Growing Health program, sponsored by the United Way of Coastal Fairfield County and Pepperidge Farm, Inc. Health Partnership.
Health Department staff joined community partners, volunteers, and Norwalk families at Fodor Farm Community Garden to celebrate, harvest herbs and vegetables from the garden, and taste some favorite recipes from this summer’s program.
Over the course of the summer, families worked with master gardeners and a nutritionist from the UConn Extension to plant, grow, and cook with fresh vegetables and herbs. They received practical, family-friendly information about nutrition and improved their skills and confidence by making (and tasting) fun, healthy recipes in cooking lessons.
“Growing Gardens, Growing Health showed our participants’ desire to make healthier choices for their whole family,” explained Kaitlin Latham, Health Education Associate and program coordinator. “I loved watching the children try new vegetables and realize that they actually taste great! The sheer number of families who return to the program every year is a testament to the sense of community that Growing Gardens, Growing Health creates, and I hope we can work with these families again soon.”
Throughout the 10-week program, families weeded and prepped their garden plots; planted a variety of vegetables, fruits, and herbs; worked to protect the crops from animals and pests; and watered and maintained the gardens each week. The whole family pitched in in the garden, and kids especially loved hands-on experience watering the garden, watching the plants grow, and searching for bugs!
In the beautifully restored Fodor Farm barn, a registered dietitian from the UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) talked with parents about healthy snacks, whole grains, better beverages, and more. In week 9, parents even took a grocery store tour, where they explored Shoprite in Norwalk, learning family-friendly, budget-conscious, healthy tips along the way.
The Health Department thanks its long list of incredible community partners who make Growing Gardens, Growing Health possible. In addition to sponsors from United Way and Pepperidge Farm, the Norwalk Department of Recreation and Parks donated garden plots and meeting space in the barn at Fodor Farm. Also, the UConn Extension professionals were invaluable in providing nutrition education and gardening expertise, and the Shopping Matters program, along with GradeA Shoprite in Norwalk, generously sponsored and hosted our grocery tour again this year.