Associate professor Heather Orom, PhD, wanted to help her
Principles of Community Health and Health Behavior students put the
research theories and methods they’d been studying into
action. She reached out to WNED-TV and the station’s
community engagement initiative, LiveWell,
aimed at promoting healthy lifestyles in Buffalo’s East Side
neighborhood, for ideas.
In partnership with Diann Holt, local preacher at Durham Memorial AME Zion Church and chaplain at Central City Café soup kitchen, and Sheehan Memorial Hospital, LiveWell had recently established a community garden in the area and was looking for help in promoting the resource to residents. While some of the garden’s fruits and vegetables were supplied to Central City Café, plots were available for community members to ‘adopt’ to grow their own produce.
According to the American Community Gardening Association, community gardens help stimulate social interaction, reduce family food budgets, and create opportunities for recreation and exercise, among other benefits.
Orom’s class embraced the service-learning project and, with just under three months to complete, set off with an ambitious agenda.
The result? Approximately 77 people in the neighborhood attended the community event and learned how to incorporate fresh fruits and vegetables into their everyday meals. The research team also discovered potential garden volunteers and adopters and identified additional community needs through a participant survey.