By Jennifer Grier
Niagara Gazette — Whenever I am given the opportunity to get out of the office and see all the projects that our program Creating Healthy Places is initiating, I am the first person in the van.
Recently, I had the opportunity to go and see the community gardens. These gardens have brought people of the community together and encouraged Niagara Falls residents to be physically active and eat healthy produce.
Gardens have been established at various places within Niagara Falls, including Community Missions churches; Zion Lutheran and St. James, Kalfas and Abate elementary schools, and the Boys and Girls Club of Niagara Falls. An indoor herb garden at the Spallino Towers was also created.
Many of the gardeners are children, and watching them tend to the garden is fun and interesting. Katie, one of our community educators, has watched these children over the course of the summer. They went from being timid but curious about plants and how they grow, to becoming more knowledgeable avid gardeners.
Katie also offers gardening workshops to these organizations with topics such as garden preparation, harvesting vegetables, and nutrition. At one workshop, she used vegetables from a garden to create peach salsa that the children tried. Most were excited to taste something that had been created with the vegetables harvested from the garden they care for. Community gardens play an important role in instilling a sense of community to people of all ages, as well as providing access to fresh produce and a safe place to be physically active.
Back in the office we are busy planning for Food Day, October 24.
Food Week Niagara Falls will be October 21st to October 27.
During the entire month of October, we are encouraging everyone in Niagara Falls and Niagara County to complete some simple food challenges. You can do these challenges with your family and friends, neighbors and co-workers.
• Try one new vegetable each week
• Stop or limit the amount of soda pop you consume
• Each week, enjoy 1 meal made from “Real Food” — food that is healthy, grown locally and by environment friendly farming
• One day each week, eat like a vegetarian
• One day each week have the entire family cook a healthy meal together
• If you are eating out, order healthy options from the menu (baked/steamed, vegetables)
It sounds simple but to complete these challenges you must plan ahead. Working on a weekly menu before you go shopping is a helpful.
Jennifer R. Grier is an administrative assistant for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County.Jennifer Grier is an administrative assistant with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County. She can be reached at 433-8839 ext. 230.