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Story in Brief

Due to limited access to healthy foods and physical activity, Stewart County residents have increased rates of chronic disease and poor health indicators. As a part of the Healthier Together Grant, provided for five years to UGA Extension in Stewart County by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 raised garden beds have been installed in Stewart County. The garden locations provide community members with the opportunity to harvest their own vegetables and learn about the benefits of gardening. Through the grant, the Extension Family and Consumer Sciences agent developed a community coalition to identify, plan and implement projects that will provide healthy food options to citizens. The Stewart County agent, in collaboration with Extension agents in Webster and Calhoun counties, installed the gardens; educated volunteers to plant, grow and harvest produce; and provide solutions to garden issues. A leadership team was created to provide guidance and oversee day-to-day needs at the garden. Three of the raised garden beds were installed at the Stewart County Extension office as an outdoor classroom. The raised garden beds have flourished and provided citizens a new access point for fresh produce. While the gardens have met the initial objective of providing more healthy foods options, they have also strengthened community relationships, which will yield positive long-term impacts.