Community gardens plant seeds to healthy habits
By the Advocate Editorial Board
April 20, 2017 at 4:12 p.m.
Updated April 21, 2017 at 6 a.m.
A trend is sprouting in Victoria County.
Volunteers and officials from several government agencies have planted two community gardens and - as a result - have planted the seeds to healthier eating and living for Victoria County residents.
About 30 volunteers gathered in early April at the Victoria County Health Department to build vegetable garden beds on the south side of the building.
Another community garden was built a few days before at Bloomington Elementary School. Health officials have identified Bloomington as a food desert, an area that lacks fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthy whole foods. What causes a food desert is a lack of grocery stores, farmers' markets and healthy food retailers.
A third, larger community garden also is planned on the grounds of the Victoria Regional Airport.
Why community gardens?
These projects are not just amusing hobbies designed to pass the time.
They have a serious purpose behind them - one that may be the essential ingredient to longer, healthier lifestyles for many.
These community gardens are just a single strategy in a long list of goals outlined in a 39-page report released last fall called the Victoria County Active Living Plan.
This document contains volumes of common sense about creating healthy habits in Victoria County, and it explains through many sobering statistics that a sedentary lifestyle is prevalent in Victoria County and is leading to serious health risks.
So it's not a big leap to think the plan - which includes creating community gardens - could save or prolong some lives.
The Active Living Plan, which was funded by a grant from the Texas Healthy Communities Assessment Choices program, involves many area organizations but is led by the Victoria County Public Health Department.
The plan urges residents to become more physically active and to develop healthy eating habits.
For the community gardens that will grow fruits and vegetables, the individual volunteers and the groups involved deserve our collective thanks. They include the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, the Victoria County Master Gardeners, the Bloomington school district and the Texas A&M Healthy South Texas program, to name a few.
However, this is one component of the Active Living Plan, and it's an excellent start.
There are other strategies, and they all deserve the community's support.
So we must roll up our sleeves and get ready to get our hands dirty to achieve them.
This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.