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Carrots in garden

Local Foods for Low-Income Families

August 31, 2017

The CNP Big Horn County garden

In 2016, the Cent$ible Nutrition Program (CNP) educator in Big Horn County worked with the South Big Horn County Healthier Lifestyles Coalition on a needs assessment for the area. The assessment revealed that the low-income populated had limited access to healthy and affordable fruits and vegetables. The coalition started a community garden in 2016 to address this need and the garden was successful in increasing access to low-income families and individuals. In 2017, when the coalition disbanded, the CNP educator applied for a grant to start a CNP community garden that would continue to increase access to local produce for low-income families and individuals in South Big Horn County.

As a requirement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the South Big Horn County Healthier Lifestyle Coalition worked together to complete a Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). The Big Horn County CNP educator participated in regular coalition meetings and helped complete the CHNA by gathering information from SNAP-Ed participants. Information collected during the assessment showed that low-income community members in Big Horn County had very limited access to healthy and affordable foods, especially fruits and vegetables.

As a result of this needs assessment, the coalition worked together to provide a community gardenHarvest located at the South Big Horn County Hospital in summer 2016. Coalition members worked together to make the garden possible, having working meetings in the garden and assisting in whatever way they could. In 2016, the produce from the garden went to Bonnie Bluejacket Nursing Home, Basin Commodities, and the Salvation Army. Basin Commodities and the Salvation Army both redistributed the produce to low-income families in the community.

In 2017, the South Big Horn County Healthier Lifestyles Coalition disbanded due to the program ending. The CNP educator, however, recognized that while the coalition was over, the work it started needed to continue. She applied for a grant to start a new community garden that would continue to provide fruits and vegetables to low-income families and individuals in South Big Horn County communities.

In spring 2017, the Big Horn County Cent$ible Nutrition Program received a $2,000 grant from the Farm Credit Services of America’s Working Here Fund for the community garden. The 2,000 square foot garden is located at the University of Wyoming Extension Office near Greybull, Wyoming.  The goals of the garden are to increase food security and reduce hunger in South Big Horn County, improve access to healthy foods, and provide educational opportunities for local community residents.

In June, the CNP educator provided a cooking and gardening camp to students in the Laura Irwin Elementary Summer School Program. During this two-week camp, students learned about MyPlate, prepared healthy snacks, and learned some basic gardening practices.  The students started their own container lettuce gardens that they took home, and they started pumpkin seeds growing in gloves.  The students took a field trip to the Big Horn County Extension Office on the last day of their camp to plant the pumpkin seedlings in the community garden. The seedlings have done well and there are now dozens of pumpkins in the garden, which will go to the students in the Laura Irwin Elementary School After School Program this fall. This summer, the CNP educator, with help from the Big Horn County Extension office, grew and maintained the garden. They planted a variety of produce including tomatoes, peppers, radishes, beets, carrots, peas, green beans, cabbage, zucchinis, cucumbers, onions, cantaloupes, acorn squash, pumpkins, and potatoes. The CNP educator also worked with youth to offer educational opportunities in the garden, including planting and growing their own vegetables.  

HarvestAs of September 2017, 215 pounds of produce have been donated to low-income families in South Big Horn County.  The produce has been donated through Basin Commodities, Community Outreach, WIC, and Cent$ible Nutrition classes.  A small amount of produce has been used in Cent$ible Nutrition classes to show class participants how to prepare different recipes using the produce. Produce, including melons, will continue to be donated throughout the early fall.The needs assessment conducted by the South Big Horn County Healthier Lifestyles Coalition provided the CNP educator with valuable information about the needs of the population she works with on a regular basis. By understanding the gaps in her community, she was able to focus her community intervention efforts into the CNP community garden, which has produced food that may otherwise have been unavailable and inaccessible to low-income families and individuals in South Big Horn County.


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