On September 22nd, Nuestra Comunidad Sana celebrated the harvest for the 5th consecutive year with families involved in its project, Nueva Cosecha/New Harvest. I’m proud to say that I have been a part of the project for all five years and it helped me to plant my very first home vegetable garden in 2006! This year I had so many zucchini (among other yummy veggies) that I didn’t know what to do with them all. Can you say zucchini bread, zucchini muffins, zucchini brownies, zucchini soup…
Our Harvest Fiesta was just wonderful. This year it was held at Tucker Park on the Hood River and so many of the 40 families involved in the project came out to celebrate. Here’s a story that Lorena Sprager, one of the project’s coordinators, told me,
“As the party was wrapping up, Doña T. came and gave me a big hug, thanking me for the Fiesta. She had come home from working a long shift at the packing house with a terrible headache. She felt down and was in pain. But Toña [NCS Health Promoter] had personally invited her to the Fiesta the day before, and her adult daughter was going to be joining her and giving her a ride. She told me her headache was completely gone. She was giddy and smiling. Her voice was filled with enthusiasm. She was clearly overjoyed to be a part of the gardening group, to enjoy sharing food, conversation, the music and nature.”
Lorena has also been involved with this project since its inception. She helped write the grant that originally funded it from the Office of Minority Health to La Clinica del Cariño (with a subcontract to us). She writes, “The meetings and the Fiesta are a time for people to come together, support each other and enjoy each other. This program supports our mental health as well as our physical health through the physical activity of gardening and the healthier nutrition of eating vegetables.”
We’re lucky to be funded this year by the National Institutes of Health under a Partners in Research grant that we received in collaboration with Oregon Health Sciences University. We’re looking forward to this year’s evaluation of our pre and post surveys to see how the families are increasing their healthy food consumption, physical activity, saving money and learning about health. The data should be more comprehensive than in the past thanks to our research partners!