The Nutrition Education Project (estab. 2003) is a collaborative effort between Evergreen Family Services and Salt Creek Farm. It's goal is to provide nutrition education to low income members of the community and access to fresh locally grown produce through participation in Community Supported Agriculture.
The impetus for this project came from an invitation and a request from Equity Trust, a non profit organization that provides technical assistance and financing to conservation and community development projects throughout the US and abroad. In April 2002 Salt Creek Farm was among many farms that received an invitation and request from Equity Trust to apply for a grant linking low income communities to CSA's. This request for a grant proposal asked that the project 1) enroll or involve low-income people as CSA members. 2) provide food services to low income communities, and or 3) involve low-income and minority farmers in CSA activities.
Brianna Noach of Serentiy House wrote the proposal and budget in the summer of 2002 and received funding for the project in May 2002. Suzie Bleven was hired as project coordinator and soon after recruited nutrition educator Karen Faverty to help with the pilot.
Three major components of the program took shape in the form of a village garden, nutrition education and cooking classes, and work at the farm.
"The Village Garden took on a life of it's own right from the get go! Two families especially enjoyed watching and helping the garden process from the beginning to the end. New soil to fill the garden boxes was brought in. A children's garden was established. One resident donated colorful vegetable markers. The whole garden got a nice sprucing up. The greatest reward was seeing the smiles on the gardener's faces as they held up their prize vegetable! One village gardener also worked at Salt Creek Farm and often problem solved with the farmers on particular gardening issues. Not everyone in the village was interested in working the vegetable garden. However, I did notice most residents spruced up their patio areas this summer by planting flowers. Evergreen Family Village never looked better!"
Nutrition and Cooking Classes were held once a week on Wednesdays at Evergreen Family Village from 5:30 to 7:00. Residents of the village and neighboring apartment buildings were invited to cook their share of vegetables. Each week, a nutritional topic was discussed with a corresponding food preparaton demonstration. Depending on what was in season, a "vegie of the week" was also featured along with recipes to collect for a cookbook. Once a month a community potluck brought together class participants and village residents in the hopes that newcomers might join the class. A pre and post self-assessment test was given to participants who chose to attend at least 6 classes as well as a final evaluation of the class at the end. What became clear throughtout the progression of the class was how much the children enjoyed cooking along side their parents. Their attendance is not documented but it is clear their presence was important. Not only did it give them the opportunity to learn about nutrition and cooking at a young age, it gave families a fun activity to do together. For future classes, I would recommend including them in the class.
Work in Exchange for Vegetable Share The goals of Salt Creek Farm owner Doug Hendickson were to introduce participants to a local organic farm and to give them a chance to be working members of a CSA. A number of residents from Evergreen Family Village, neighboring apartment buildings, and other interested participants worked two hours a week in exchange for shares of fresh organic vegetables. In doing so, participants were exposed to the hard work it takes to run a organic vegetable farm. Some felt empowered by the contribution they were making to the community. Others just liked being out in nature, getting dirt under their nails and getting a way to socialize in a way they usually don't get to"
Susie Bleven, Project Coordinator