A Banner Publication
February 7, 2008 – Vol. 2 • No. 6
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The Food Project:
On a mission to get your heart healthy

Although congestive heart failure and other chronic diseases are among the most common and costly health problems Americans face, they are also among the most preventable. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adopting healthy behaviors like eating nutritious foods can slow — or in some cases, even stop — the devastating effects of these diseases.

But food consumption trends show that 50 cents out of every dollar that Americans spend on food are used to purchase processed foods that are high in salt, fats, sugars and artificial flavorings. Foods high in salt are especially harmful to people with heart failure. In an increasingly “on-the-go” society, the convenience of prepared foods often seems to trump nutritional value as a meal’s most important ingredient.

Urban Ed interns leading a youth group in activities on The Food Project’s Urban Learning Farm.
One local community organization is working to reverse that trend by partnering with youth and adults to offer healthier food in Greater Boston. The Food Project (TFP) works with Boston-area teens on both its 31-acre farm in Lincoln and two-and-a-half acres of urban farmland in Dorchester to grow healthy food for city residents and suburbanites alike.

The project distributes produce through on-farm and delivered Community Supported Agriculture programs, as well as a farmers’ market that operates two afternoons a week from June to November at Dudley Town Common. In addition to fresh produce, the farmers’ market also offers live entertainment and cooking demonstrations presented by TFP youth and staff. Forty percent of the project’s produce is donated to local hunger relief organizations like Pine Street Inn, Rosie’s Place and Community Servings.

Youth weeding a bed of salad mix on The Food Project’s West Cottage farm in Dorchester.
Food Project youth and staff also encourage city residents to grow their own food. As part of the Build-A-Garden program, they build raised bed gardens for residents, schools and community-based organizations in Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan and Jamaica Plain. The 4-by-8 gardens come complete with compost, seeds, transplants and a Grower’s Manual. TFP youth and staff also provide support and training on how to grow food successfully and produce an abundance of tomatoes, salad mix and other vegetables. Raised bed gardens can be built atop most surfaces, including concrete or lead-contaminated soil.

Elementary and middle school-aged youth can also learn to grow and eat healthy produce by signing up for a visit to The Food Project’s Urban Learning Farm at the Shirley Eustis House in Roxbury during the summer. The Food Project offers workshops on gardening and healthy eating for camp groups every Tuesday in July and August.

For more information about The Food Project’s farmers’ market, the Build-A-Garden program or workshops, call Kathleen Banfield at 617-442-1322 x12 or contact her via e-mail at kbanfield@thefoodproject.org. Those interested in volunteering on The Food Project farms in Lincoln and Dorchester in the spring or fall to help grow and harvest fresh vegetables can contact Outreach Coordinator Michael Iceland at 781-259-8621 x30 or via e-mail at miceland@thefoodproject.org.