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Planting the Seeds of Good Nutrition in Old Fourth Ward

'As more metro Atlantans discover the amazing taste of locally grown food, more individuals and families will seek out sites for gardening.'

by Julie Sinor

OLD FOURTH WARD — As metro Atlanta becomes more densely populated, individuals and families are increasingly living in apartments, townhomes, co-­ops and condos. The front lawn? The backyard?

For city dwellers, the front lawn and the backyard are going the way of the percolating coffee pot and the landline telephone.

However, the desire that gardeners have to grow and harves their own fruits and vegetables is as strong as ever.

Which would you rather have: fresh lettuce, which was harvested this morning from a local organic garden or a bedraggled head of lettuce, which traveled 1,800 miles by truck to reach your city?

As more metro Atlantans discover the amazing taste of locally grown food, more individuals and families will seek out sites for gardening.

Old Fourth Ward gardeners have been in search of a place to plant, grow and harvest veggies. Several gardeners reached out to Nazeera Dawood, Health Promotion Program manager for the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, to discuss options for gardening in the city. The dialogue could not have been initiated at a better time.

The Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness is working to improve the health of Fulton County residents and make Fulton County No. 1 in county health rankings in the state of Georgia.

Many Atlantans suffer from diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Although individuals may be consuming a sufficient number of calories, they are not getting the nutrients they need in the calories they consume.

Good nutrition — including five servings of fruits and vegetables per day — provides a foundation for managing one’s health and helping to prevent many illnesses. The health promotion team strives to help communities have improved access to fresh fruits and vegetables; understand nutrition; and prevent or manage obesity, diabetes and heart disease. For the Fulton County Health Promotion team, the goals of improving the health of local residents and removing obstacles to the establishment of a community garden dovetailed.

To accomplish its goals, the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness has established relationships with a wide range of stakeholders including non-profit organizations, community health promotion groups and community residents. By working with Commissioner Joan Garner, the Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness was able to identify greenspace the community garden.

Walter Todd, an Old Fourth Ward community member said, "We are very excited to be a part of the planning process to start the community garden. We thank Fulton County Health Department for outreaching to us to improve the health of our community."

During the community garden groundbreaking on Jan. 21, the many community members and organizations that have provided input and helped make this first step a possibility will be acknowledged, including Commissioner Joan Garner and her staff; Amye Walters, co-lead for the Community Garden Initiative; the Diabetes Community Action Coalition; the Fulton County Cooperative Extension; Truly Living Well and the United Methodist Men.

As Atlantans celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, we are still working to achieve the American Dream that Dr. King described so many years ago. As Dr. King said:

”I tell you this morning once more that I haven’t lost the faith I still have a dream that one day all of God’s children will have food and clothing and material well-being for their bodies, culture and education for their minds, and freedom for their spirits.” — “The American Dream” delivered at Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, July 4, 1965.

Walter Todd and fellow Old Fourth Ward community gardeners plan to start with a small demonstration garden, which will be installed by Truly Living Well during the groundbreakin on Jan. 21. The community garden will be expanded as time and resources permit. The gardeners envision having nutrition and cooking classes after the garden has been established.

For additional information, please contact Dr. Nazeera Dawood, Health Promotion Program manager, nazeera.dawood@fultoncountyga.gov or 404.613.1685.

Ms. Sinor, of Ormewood Park, is an organic gardener who creates and sustains community gardens. An avid tweeter about our food system, quiet spaces and public art under @JulieSinor, she is co-lead of the Community Garden Initiative.  

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