Cornell Cooperative Extension of Nassau County (CCE-Nassau) and the Land Alliance have teamed up to provide health and wellness programs in partnership with the Land Alliance Roosevelt Community Garden. “We are really excited about this partnership. There is a mountain of research supporting the positive impact that community gardens can have on health and well-being,” says Gregory Sandor, Executive Director of CCE-Nassau.
In fact, several studies have shown that engaging with community gardens increases the availability and overall consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables among participants. CCE-Nassau’s Master Gardener, Audrey Thomas, of Roosevelt elaborates, “If you want to eat healthy, you should know the benefits of having fresh vegetables and know how to grow them.” When paired with nutrition education and programming, the impact increases dramatically. Beth Labelson, Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Educator with CCE-Nassau explains, “We see real behavior change among participants in our health and wellness programs. Not only does fruit and vegetable consumption increase among participants, but we also see improved healthy food choices, a willingness to try new foods and an improved awareness about the connections between good health and food.”
Teen wellness program in Roosevelt Community Garden called Fuel for Success led by medical students from Hofstra University
To this end, CCE-Nassau and the Land Alliance launched a teen wellness program in Roosevelt Community Garden called Fuel for Success. CCE-Nassau’s summer interns, pre-med students from Hofstra University, designed and developed a curriculum geared towards nutrition and fitness as a foundation for health. The students not only engaged participants in fun activities but also incorporated the garden in a recipe demonstration and tasting. “We cannot overstate the impact that community garden-based programs can have on obesity prevention among kids,” continues Labelson. “As we move into the winter months, we hope the partnership will shift to indoor spaces so we don’t lose the momentum we have created.”
In fact, the partnership will move indoors to Roosevelt Public Library in October with the launch of Dining With Diabetes. This program pairs education about diabetes self-management with hands-on cooking demonstrations and recipe tasting. The incorporation of culinary skills and recipe tasting into the series has shown an impact beyond that of traditional diabetes education programs. Furthermore, information about participating in community and/or home gardening is woven into the fabric of the curriculum.
Conserving our land and connecting people to it is fundamental in supporting the health and well-being of our communities. The interconnection among creating sustainable food systems, promoting land conservation, being stewards of the environment and using nature as an intervention strategy is increasingly being recognized as vital to improving social, emotional, and physical health and well-being.