Healthy Hearts Plus II created The Garden Project to, educated, empower, and feed pregnant women and children who live in underserved communities plaqued by food deserts in Central Virginia. The program is designed to equipped communites with the knowledge and skill set to cultivate and manage gardens that are nutritious, technically and economically feasible, and kitchen friendly. The Garden Project offers access to fresh, healthy, affordable foods, that are conveniently located. The Garden Project aims to reduce the negative health impact food deserts have on underserved communities, particularly, pregnant women and their children. The implementation can result in reducing the maternal and infant mortality rate, as well as, reducing low birth weight and racial disparities by addressing associated risk factors; such as maternal stress and depression, and increase breastfeeding rates.
Healthy Hearts Plus II participants were selected directly from the Gilpin community and are part of
Mommies, Bellies, Babies & Daddies program. Consisting of three mothers and one father, as well as their
children, they engaged in hands on training and virtual instruction. Participants used the skills and knowledge attained during their training and applied them independently, ensuring the maintenance of the garden.
By the end of the program, participants had a much better knowledge of and interest in gardening, nutrition,
composting and some aspects of the business of agriculture. Each participant was given a tomato plant to cultivate and harvest. They have been given all the tools necessary to care for this plant from
garden to table. With their new found insight, they have committed to share, care, and grow their green space in Gilpin.