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Helping Gardeners Make the Best Use of their Harvest

The Issue

Greens, beets and cabbage are examples of produce that pack a strong nutrition punch but don't get much space in the average community garden. A CE study conducted in Los Angeles indicated that community gardeners were either not growing some of the most nutritious crops or did not know how to prepare them in ways that their family enjoyed. Another problem was that they often prepare them with high-fat, high-salt methods rather than healthful methods such as steaming.

What Has ANR Done?

CE's Common Ground Garden Program developed a series of in-the-garden cooking and nutrition workshops for low-income gardeners called "Fresh from the Garden."

Workshops are grouped into 4 categories: Cool Weather Vegetables, Warm Weather Vegetables, Cooking Vegetables for Good Taste and Good Health, and Freezing Vegetables. There are nine 45-minute lessons, which are offered in English and Spanish. Each lesson includes an overview of the topic, cultivation, nutrition, handling and preparation, recipe demonstrations with tasting and an English/Spanish handout. The recipes are easy to prepare and contain a limited number of ingredients. They contain no ingredients that might be considered “exotic” or costly, require no special equipment to prepare, and are limited in added fat and sodium. Most importantly, they taste good! After participating in the workshops, participants receive a newsletter with continuing nutrition and recipe tips on using their garden produce.

The Payoff

Fresh from the Garden families change their eating habits

Since 1999, we have conducted a telephone survey of the participants two to four weeks after the class. Survey results indicate that 83% of the workshop participants reported a behavior change since attending one or more of the classes. Eight-four percent of those attending reported that they prepared one or more of the recipes learned in the class.

Clientele Testimonial

Clara Luz Verela told us that she has changed the way she cooks food and the choices of food she eats. She is eating more vegetables in her food, eating raw vegetables. Her children ask her "how these vegetables are born" and the names of the vegetables they are eating.

Norma Linares says her 5-year-old son asks several times per week for the spinach salad she learned to make.

Maria de Lourdes Moreno said her children are eating more broccoli, spinach and cauliflower. Even though it hasn't been easy, she is cooking and preparing these more often.


Supporting Unit: Los Angeles County

Susan Giordano, UC Cooperative Extension, Los Angeles County, 4800 E. Cesar E. Chavez, Los Angeles, CA 90022, (323) 260-3201, sugiordano@ucdavis.edu