How does your garden grow?

Published 8:25 am Wednesday, June 5, 2013

GATESVILLE – Since its opening decades ago, the Gates County Community Center has prided itself on not only a place for groups and organizations to gather, but providing a recreational outlet both indoors and out.

Now you can add nutritional outlet to the list of offering at the Community Center.

Thanks to the legwork by Lulu Eure, Director of the Center, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BSBSNC) has awarded a grant to the local entity through the Nourishing North Carolina program.

According to Eure, the grant will result in space dedicated at the Community Center for vegetable gardens, thus making healthier food more accessible to the citizens of Gates County.

BCBSNC launched the program in 2011 in partnership with the North Carolina Recreation and Parks Association in an effort to create or enhance community gardens in all 100 North Carolina counties.

“This grant will allow the Gates County Community Center to install our garden so we can provide fresh, local produce for more people in our community and to encourage healthy eating habits,” said Eure.

“We are proud to be part of the Nourishing North Carolina network,” Eure added. “Our garden not only provides healthy food, it also provides a safe area for our neighbors to work together, share a public green space, and be physically active through gardening.”

This comes at a time where studies are showing that North Carolinians are continuing to face serious health issues, to include a statewide obesity rate that remains at an alarming level. Nearly two-thirds of adults in North Carolina are overweight or obese due to unhealthy eating habits and physical inactivity.

Officials behind the community garden concept say they are just one way to address health issues across North Carolina.

“Communities across North Carolina are embracing this initiative and rolling up their sleeves to help citizens eat better and live healthier lives. This is important work that reaches far beyond the growing season,” said Brad Wilson, BCBSNC president and CEO.

Eure said space has been set aside at the Community Center for 12 garden plots. She understands the need for such a program.

“As the Director of the Gates County Community Center and a Gates County citizen, I’m very aware that families with both parents working feel they cannot or do not have the time to raise fresh produce,” said Eure, who also serves on the Regional Healthy Eating team as well as a regular vendor at the Gates County Farmers Market.

“We also have senior citizens here in our county who are not physically able to work a full garden; these smaller plots will be ideal,” she added. “With these raised garden beds, whose working these gardens will note that vegetables can be raised in a small area with little time involved.”

While there is a fitness room at the Community Center, Eure reminded all that fitness is not just confined to exercise.

“It’s also about growing healthy food, cooking healthy foods and eating healthy food,” she noted. “The overall plan for the garden is to show that gardening can be fun and easy as well as healthy.”

For more information about the community gardens at the Community Center, call 252-357-0587.

By 2014, Nourishing North Carolina is expected to ultimately provide North Carolina communities with 190,000 pounds of produce, which will enhance the nutritional value of nearly 150,000 meals. In its first year also the program donated more than two tons of produce to food shelter and rescue organizations across the state.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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