A New Vegetable Garden Increased Community Spirit
The IssueThe Eastside Neighborhood, one of the oldest residential areas of the City of Riverside, is also one of the poorest. More than half of the adults and almost a quarter of the teenagers were considered overweight in 2012 when Kaiser Permanente funded the Heal Zone Initiative to improve the community’s overall wellness through education and increased access to healthy local food. The Community Settlement Association (CSA), founded over 100 years ago to help immigrants from Mexico settle into Riverside, now provides social services and food distributions to the Eastside residents. The Association needed assistance to revitalize the existing garden to help residents have access to fresh produce.
What Has ANR Done?UC CalFresh began working with CSA in 2013. Within three years, UC CalFresh not only revitalized the existing garden but also led a team of partners and volunteers to build a new garden on the property with $10,000 funding from Kaiser Heal Zone Project. A UC CalFresh Educator teamed up with our UCCE Master Gardeners to provide gardening and nutrition lessons during the monthly garden club meetings and provided spotlight education to the participants of the food distribution program. Youth in the after school program at this site also received gardening and nutrition education from the UC CalFresh TWIGS curriculum. This year, the CATCH physical education module was added to the after- school program and 4-H Youth Development was brought in to establish the first Spanish-speaking 4-H club in the County. This project is another example of multiple players working together to create collective impact. UC CalFresh served as the project leader, while Master Gardeners provided gardening expertise and classes. Additionally, the UC Riverside Community Garden Coordinator and Global Food Initiative Student Fellow brought in student volunteers to help build the new garden. Finally, Kaiser Heal Zone provided funding, and 4-H supported youth engagement.
Community gardens became the focal point for adults and youth participantsThe Garden Club now holds classes in the new garden. The plot holders planted summer vegetables and the participating moms organized a summer harvest celebration, making tamales with corn leaves from the garden. The youth organized and participated in the 4-H garden showcase where they performed a talent show for their parents and guided the garden tour. They named their 4-H club Eastside Eagles and are very proud of their activities and accomplishments. Riverside City Councilman Andy Melendrez presided over the opening celebration for the new garden on Earth Day to honor the families for choosing healthy eating and active living.
Supporting Unit:Riverside County UC CalFresh, Master Gardeners Program, 4-H Youth Development
Chutima Ganthavorn, NFCS Advisor, firstname.lastname@example.org
Emma Sandoval, UC CalFresh Educator, email@example.com
Nancy Johnson, Master Gardener, firstname.lastname@example.org
Claudia Diaz Carrasco, 4-H Advisor, email@example.com