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Why is the hospital helping build a Community Garden?

March 08, 2018

By Wayne Meriwether, MHA, Chief Executive Officer at TLRMC

People traveling up and down Wallace Avenue can watch the daily progress of the new Leitchfield Pediatrics facility being built across from TLRMC. Soon they will notice signs nearby for another new project - The Wallace Avenue Community Gardens at Twin Lakes Regional Medical Center. This community garden will be built behind the hospital on one of the vacant lots between TLRMC and Twin Lakes Home Health. The Community Gardens are a joint venture between the TLRMC Population Health Committee and the Grayson County Master Gardeners Association.

If you have read this far you're probably asking "Why is the hospital helping build a Community Garden?" The answer is both simple and complex - we are trying to help make our community healthier. Let me explain.

In the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) our hospital performed, "Nutrition and Obesity" were two of the top health challenges facing the people living here. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), when compared nationally and statewide, Grayson County ranks low in several key areas: Cancer deaths; Adult diabetes/diabetes deaths; Adult obesity; Limited access to healthy food; and Percent of low income residents that do not live close to a grocery store.

TLRMC formed the Population Health Committee to respond to these and other community health challenges. This group is made up of several departments within the hospital, the Grayson County Health Department, the Grayson County school system, the UK Cooperative Extension Service, the KY Cancer Program, local industries, civic leaders, and more.

The Population Health Committee, led by TLRMC, has partnered with the Grayson County Master Gardeners Association in building a community garden to help reverse the negative nutrition and obesity trends here. Benefits from a community garden program include:

Help provide chances for people to benefit from a supply of healthy food
Offer economic benefits and income opportunities to gardeners
Provide opportunities for people of all ages to come together to learn agrarian perspectives and skills, and to make a connection with life sustaining practices
Build a stronger sense of community
From Clemson University's "Starting a Community Garden" guide. "Many families living in urban and suburban communities would like to grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Those who are lucky enough to have sunny backyards or balconies can plant a garden whenever they have the time and energy, but what about those who do not have a place to garden? For these people, community gardens may be the answer."

"A community garden is typically one piece of land, which is gardened collectively by a group of people. In addition to providing fresh produce, community gardens beautify neighborhoods and help bring neighbors closer together. Community gardens also provide safe, recreational green space."

We have found several community garden programs to base a Grayson County program on, including some run by other hospitals. Louisville, Owensboro and Bowling Green have successful community gardens just to name a few others. Each gardener will be assigned a raised bed or small plot to use throughout the growing season for a nominal fee.

If you are interest in learning more about the Wallace Avenue Community Garden, join us at noon on Wednesday, March 21 at the Grayson County Cooperative Extension offices, 123 Commerce Drive. Call 270-259-3492 to sign up for the free meeting.

The Wallace Avenue Community Garden is truly a "Growing" partnership! (Pun intended.)