One of my greatest sources of frustration is listening to politicians and even my fellow Americans debating about whether or not we should have access to free healthcare in the U.S. For me it’s a no brainer. There are several countries already doing it. So, to think that the richest country in the world can’t make this happen is unfathomable to me.
In order to overcome that frustration, I started thinking of possible solutions. Contributions I can make as an individual.
For the past three years, I’ve had a genuine desire to create community gardens in urban neighborhoods. My intention is to help improve health and teach young people the value of growing their own foods and following a plant based diet.
If we can improve the nutrition of residents in low income communities, we can improve overall health by reducing the number of people diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and more.
Ideally, I would like to use community gardens as a means to ultimately lower the costs of healthcare. If we teach people to use nutrition as a preventive measure to improve their health, then we reduce the amount emergency room visits that could have been prevented through routine doctor’s visits. People without health insurance often only see a doctor after landing in the ER.
Though community gardens are relatively simple, my lofty goals are not, which left me feeling very overwhelmed by the undertaking. I actually almost talked myself out of my dream.
What helped steady me is the thought that regardless of how overwhelming the task, I’m responsible for doing my part to contribute to the world. If this is why I was placed on this earth, then I have to do it.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I don’t have to do it all at once. I just have to do what I can do and the rest will fall into place.
Now, that I’m here in Jacksonville, the vision has resurfaced. Seeing as how I’m still new to the area and I don’t have the connections I had in Atlanta, I initially felt it would be even harder. On the flip side though, Jacksonville isn’t inundated with community gardens like Atlanta. The need seems to be even greater here.
So, in recent weeks I began to share my vision with people I’ve encountered. Every time I’ve done that, my path has been lit. I see more pieces of the puzzle coming together. Last weekend, I volunteered to work in a local community garden in a low income neighborhood in the city. I may not have my own garden yet, but in the meantime I can serve another garden. This allows me to learn and to do what I love.
From the moment I stepped foot in that garden I felt like I was at home. It’s the feeling you get when you know without a doubt that you’re working in your purpose. I KNOW this is what I’m suppose to be doing.
I officially formed my nonprofit organization a few weeks ago, and now I’m preparing to apply for my tax-exempt status.
Here are a 10 reasons planting a community garden is the right thing to do:
- Lowers food costs
- Increases access to fresh foods
- Improves food security (the state of having reliable access to sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.)
- Increases physical activity through garden maintenance activities
- Improves dietary habits through education
- Increases fruit and vegetable intake
- Reduces risk of obesity and obesity-related diseases
- Reduces crime
- Improves mental health and promotes relaxation
- Creates community pride/neighborhood beautification
Even if it’s not possible to create a full garden at the moment, start where you are. Get a planter to place in the window sill and grow tomatoes, lettuce and herbs. Or plant a garden on your deck or rooftop of your apartment.
The important thing is to start where you are. You can take small steps to improve your health. No matter where you are today, your life and your health could be remarkably different in one year. It all depends on what you choose to do today.
Until next time…
Peace, Love, & Fitness