- Author: Hawau E Bojuwon
UCCE Kern County and CNAP partners community garden training increased knowledge for 18 local agencies on cultivating and maintaining food-based gardens, and supported UC ANR's commitment to healthy families and communities.
According to County Health Rankings & Roadmap, Kern County's food insecurity rate of 23.8% exceeds California's rate of 18%. Almost 74% of Kern County adults are overweight or obese, posing chronic disease risks such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
How UC Delivers
The Kern County Nutrition Action Plan (CNAP) for a Healthy Kern empowers local communities to create a culture of healthy living. Collaborative efforts to prevent obesity and other chronic disease include direct and indirect education, outreach, and policy system environmental changes (PSE) to create positive wellness environments where people work, live, and play. UCCE Kern County's Nutrition, Family, and Consumer Sciences Advisor chaired the Kern CNAP for a Healthy Kern, working to help prevent food insecurity and obesity. CNAP collaborated with Kern County Public Health Services Department, McKinley Elementary School, and Kern County Library to plan and conduct the McKinley Home Garden Training program for representatives from 18 community-based organizations.
Research shows that food-centered gardening leads to increased consumption of fresh foods from backyards and community gardens. The UCCE Kern training program included information on gardening basics, health benefits of gardening, and healthy lifestyle choices. Participants received vital information and skills to develop and maintain gardens in food-insecure communities.
As a result of UCCE Kern County collaborations to conduct the McKinley Elementary School gardening training, participants from 18 community agencies increased their knowledge of gardening methods and resources available to start and sustain a garden. Significant changes among participants were documented with a pre/post survey developed by the CNAP. Before the garden training, 78% of participants reported little to some knowledge, skills, or understanding about gardening, and 22% reported having a lot to a great deal of knowledge. In post-survey results, 22% of participants reported little to some knowledge, skills, or understanding of gardening, and 78% reported a lot to a great deal of knowledge, demonstrating a doubling of knowledge that was held prior to the training.
Results of the training were shared at the Kern County Nutrition Action Plan (CNAP) coalition meeting, which led to a Parks and Recreation inquiry indicating interest in establishing additional gardens across Kern County. Participants noted the benefits of the training as learning how systems work together to achieve impact and serve the community; a great program to teach the younger generation healthy options; impacting their work around implementing Policies, Systems, and Environmental (PSE) changes; a great idea for summer camp classes for students; useful information to start a garden and use the fresh vegetables in nutrition education classes, and implementing herb box container gardening at churches.” These results demonstrate how UCCE Kern County, in partnership with other local agencies, provided knowledge and skills to support healthier families and positive built environments in the community./h3>/h3>/h3>/h3>