Alliance's Community Garden: what does it mean for our patients, and how can you help?

by: Kelsey Riggs & Elizabeth Daniel

How many of us know what ingredients are in our granola bar or those Cheeze-Its?  Probably not many, and if we did know we may not eat them as often!  When we eat foods in their natural form -- and especially when we grow them ourselves -- we know exactly what we are eating.  

 Members of Edenton Street United Methodist Church planting, weeding and harvesting in Alliance's garden during their Day of Service. 

Members of Edenton Street United Methodist Church planting, weeding and harvesting in Alliance's garden during their Day of Service. 

At Alliance, our doctors are not only prescribing medicine, they are prescribing healthy eating, exercise, and lifestyle changes. An integral aspect of changing habits is human empowerment through education and increased access to resources. We care deeply about our patients. We strive to create a sense of community for our patients and empower them to take charge of their health. We are able to do that through our community garden!  

 Alliance's Medical Director Dr. Tara Burnett-Lewis along with two patients harvesting kale in our community garden after November's "Walk with a Doc"!

Alliance's Medical Director Dr. Tara Burnett-Lewis along with two patients harvesting kale in our community garden after November's "Walk with a Doc"!

Our community garden is a beautiful, hands-on model that encompasses the elements of education and community building we value so deeply. Urban agriculture and community gardens are a growing need in our cities. Alliance's garden is used as an educational tool and a way to produce healthy, organic produce for our patients. It is ever-changing and ever-growing, and we enjoy the chance to learn with each other and our diverse community as it grows each season.  Alliance has chosen to take a small step toward sustainability and self-sufficiency by growing a community garden, but we can't do it without the help of our community! 

 Ravenscroft middle school students visit Alliance monthly for garden workdays.

Ravenscroft middle school students visit Alliance monthly for garden workdays.

Alliance has many ways for patients, community members, and volunteers to get involved. Every second Wednesday from 5-6:30 and every fourth Saturday from 9:30-12 we have a garden workday. These are great opportunities to dig your hands in the soil and learn first-hand about what goes on in a community garden. In the warmer months, attendees are able to harvest and see the fruits of our labor!

This spring, we plan to plant beans, kale, collards, cabbage, broccoli, beets, spinach, cucumbers, tomatoes and even strawberries and blueberries!  When the garden is producing, we are able to harvest and bag our vegetables to give to our patients after their doctor visits. We like to put produce in each bag along with a related, simple, and healthy recipe, as well as some resources about local farmers markets around the city.

 Carina Saavedra, Alliance's former AmeriCorps member, with bags of lettuces and vegetables ready to give to our patients!

Carina Saavedra, Alliance's former AmeriCorps member, with bags of lettuces and vegetables ready to give to our patients!

On March 28th, we'll celebrate and bless our garden with a Garden Kick-Off!   We'll have seedlings ready to be transplanted into our garden and a few volunteer groups here to help with the effort. Many hands make light work; come one come all!

Buzz on over for Alliance's Garden Launch!

Come learn about Alliance’s garden, transplant our spring seedlings and dedicate the garden to our patients.  
No experience needed!  
 
The clinic will be open for tours.
 
Alliance Medical Ministry,
101 Donald Ross Dr., Raleigh 27610

Interested in learning more about the value and importance of urban farming?  Check out the North Carolina Cooperative Extension and Food and Agriculture Organization of the  United Nations for more information, and contact Kelsey Riggs or Elizabeth Daniel to help at Alliance!

Many thanks to our Garden & Wellness supporters who help keep our garden growing:

Bank of America Foundation
Burt's Bees The Greater Good Foundation
Campbell Road Nursery
Rex Healthcare/UNC Health
The Hillsdale Fund
Community Care Fund of the Doing Good in the Neighborhood Campaign, coordinated by Duke University's Office of Durham & Regional Affairs