UCCE coordinates Calaveras Garden-to-Family program
The IssueResearch shows regular and adequate consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with improved health, including reduced risk of stroke, some cancers, and type 2 diabetes. Calaveras Garden-to-Family (CGF) addresses this need by increasing the amount of local produce available to needy families through produce donation and education on home gardening.
What Has ANR Done?CGF’s mission is to empower families to produce some of their own food while providing for them in the interim. This project is coordinated by UC Cooperative Extension and involves a local food bank and the Probation and Behavioral Health departments of Calaveras County. Volunteer participants include area gardeners, small farmers, Master Gardeners, students, behavioral health clients, adjudicated youth and families in need. Area gardeners and farmers donate their excess produce to the food bank, exchange produce directly with their needy neighbors and teach them how to grow and prepare fresh produce. UCCE provides horticulture workshops to CGF participants and coordinates information exchange between experienced and beginning gardeners. Calaveras High School students grow thousands of vegetable starts for distribution to CGF participants. Calaveras Behavioral Health clients help with garden tasks.
Empowering people to feed themselves and their communityIn 2009, 9,200 pounds of produce was distributed to families in need and the 2010 growing season brought more than 7,300 pounds of local produce to needy families. As a result of CGF, more than two dozen families started their own gardens, three community gardens were created and thousands of vegetable starts were distributed. CGF worked with Calaveras County Probation and at-risk youth to construct a vegetable garden at the Calaveras Crisis Center. Local trucking companies donated their services to move over 140 yards of mulch and soil to participating gardens. CGF also partnered with knowledgeable gardeners to conduct workshops on composting, growing potatoes and improving garden soil, resulting in more than 160 people growing potatoes and composting for the first time. For the 2009 summer growing season, there were 68 participants signed up for the program and by 2010 there were 114. As one participant put it, “Garden-to-Family is more than a program, it’s an inspiration.” In 2011 the program will include more horticultural education classes and involve other UCCE-coordinated programs, such as Master Gardeners, 4-H and UCCE nutrition programs. Calaveras Garden-to-Family is successful not just in feeding people but also in empowering people to feed themselves and their community.
Calaveras County UCCESean Kriletich,(209)223-6837, firstname.lastname@example.org