Growing good health in Suffolk

Published 9:28 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2012

When the Suffolk Partnership for a Healthy Community launched its Community Gardens program a couple of summers ago, the idea was to get a few people involved in helping to spread the word about the health benefits of local gardens, while using the literal fruits (and vegetables) of those folks’ labors to provide healthy food to a few families who really needed it.

With two gardens — and more volunteers than they ever expected — in the first year, the project was a resounding success. Many pounds of vegetables and fruits were raised in Holland and the downtown area, and volunteers had a great time posing for photos with piles of the produce they’d raised as they prepared to deliver it to the people who would eat it.

Last season, the program grew, and more gardens were added around the city, including at least one at an elementary school, where children got a chance to learn about the importance of vegetables while watching the miracle of their growth. Another successful harvest ensued, and plans were laid for this year’s crop of gardens, which is even bigger than last year’s.

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Gardens have been planted around the city for educational purposes, they have been designed to bring communities together, they have been planted for general public access, they have been erected as memorials and they have been undertaken as service projects. And still, regardless of whatever else might have motivated their construction, each of those gardens helps spread the word about healthy eating and helps provide good food to people in the community who otherwise might not be able to get it.

The Suffolk Partnership and all of those people who have given of their time, their sweat and their financial resources to make these gardens grow deserve a ton of respect for the work they’ve done and the opportunities they’ve provided. Because of them, summer can have a healthy new meaning for a lot more people around Suffolk.