West Louisville is home to many communities with limited resources and lives in “food deserts,” low-income areas that lack access to grocery stores and fresh foods.
You’ll often find corner stores instead of grocery stores in west Louisville, including the California neighborhood, making fruit and vegetables more accessible than chips and candy.
Some children who aren’t given fresh, healthy food at a young age, like broccoli, green beans, and lettuce, might not like them in their adult years.
Parents might think their kids are just picky eaters, but this aversion to vegetables could lead to health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
With the California Community Center garden in California Park, Norton Children’s Prevention and Wellness intends to address this lack of options and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Wi-fi is available at the facility, and five computers with internet access. Meeting rooms and an indoor court are also available.
Joe Hall, Norton Children’s Public Relations Manager, said, “the garden will be planted with dozens of potatoes, peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, and herbs. Anyone in the community wanting fresh produce will have access to the garden.”
The Norton Children’s Prevention and Wellness program, also known as the Office of Child Advocacy, promotes healthy habits and teaches parents and families how to live healthy lives.
In collaboration with 2Not1 Fatherhood and Families, a non-profit group focusing on the safety and well-being of children, Norton Children’s Health and Wellness Coordinator Nikki Boyd helped revitalize the community garden.
“The garden, funded by Cigna Healthier Kids for Our Future, symbolizes hope and prosperity,” said Boyd. “It was heavily weeded out and overgrown, so we got busy.”
Boyd said, “It was over 80 degrees outside, and people were out there helping us out, even people with health issues, and it made the impact that much greater just to see us make this happen.”
It takes about 40 days for vegetables and fruits to grow.
The California Community Center will use the fresh produce in cooking classes beginning in July to teach families and children healthy lifestyle habits.
Boyd said, “In these classes, they will learn about nutrition and why it’s important, and they get a chance to cook and use the vegetables. They’re more likely to eat them because they made them.”
Boyd said that everyone is welcome to visit the garden and use fresh produce in their everyday cooking.