An exciting new garden

Published 8:22 pm Saturday, June 2, 2018

A new garden planted in a visible downtown location will benefit a number of different people in the community, from children to the cooks and diners at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront’s restaurant.

A dozen volunteers teamed up to build and plant the garden behind the hotel on Tuesday. The Healthy Suffolk Digs garden was done in collaboration with the Nansemond River Preservation Alliance, Parks and Recreation and Suffolk Business Women, with assistance from Councilman Roger Fawcett, Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and Johnson’s Gardens.

The vegetables and herbs will be used in dishes at the hotel’s restaurant, and the staff there are excited about the prospect. Eye-catching flowers will bring attention to the garden and help raise awareness of healthier food choices and environmental protection. The garden will do its part to help reduce runoff into the nearby Nansemond River, which benefits all of us.

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It will also help bring attention to Healthy Suffolk’s community gardens, which are not well known in the public but are a vital part of the organization’s programming.

Perhaps most importantly, children at the new ForKids Center for Children and Families in progress nearby on West Constance Road will be able to visit and learn from the garden. They’ll learn not only about plant life cycles but also about nutrition and how gardens work in an ecosystem to help protect the environment.

That’s knowledge that will serve them well in the future. Studies have shown that strong nutrition education can lead to healthier food choices even at young ages, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Nutrition education for young people couldn’t be more important: the prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity and Type 2 diabetes among children continues to rise. Half of children eat less than one serving of fruit a day, and nearly 30 percent eat less than one serving of non-fried vegetables per day, according to a USDA report. Added sugar, mostly from soda, contributes 20 percent of total food energy in children’s diets.

All of these things combine to make the new garden behind the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront an exciting and worthwhile new adventure. We appreciate the hard work of all those who helped make it happen.