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Gardening Can Lead to a Whole New Level of Health

By D.K. Wright, Digital Journalist, WTRF-TV7 A garden on every corner, and fresh locally-grown fruits and vegetables on every plate–that’s the goal of the Green Wheeling Initiative. This is the subject of the Public Garden Lecture to be presented by the Ohio County Master Gardeners at the Schrader Environmental Education Center at Oglebay Park on Monday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m.

The Green Wheeling Initiative’s mission is to make healthy food available and affordable by redirecting the flight of Wheeling’s food dollar toward locally-grown foods. People from all walks of life are getting involved in GWI, building a network of community gardens that has attracted the attention of local schools, social service agencies, city planners and area churches. There are now 11 neighborhood gardens with plans for at least five additional sites in 2012.

So far, sites include the East Wheeling Community Gardens on 14th, 15th and 18th streets; The Virginia Apartments Rubble Garden in North Wheeling; the Culinary Arts Garden at West Virginia Northern Community College; the Children’s Victory Garden at 11th and Main streets; the South Wheeling Alive Garden across from Pulaski Park; the Wheeling Island Rats Community Garden behind Madison School; and the Teaching Garden and Garden of the Seven Gates, both at the New Vrindaban Community.

GWI is partnering with West Virginia Northern Community College, the Hess Family Foundation and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to bring about a 10 percent shift toward a local food economy. One of the key initiatives is the gardening micro-grant project which provides grant money to people who want to create community gardens in the Wheeling area.

Between mid-April and September, GWI is planning a series of 15 workshops focusing on hands-on gardening skills. They believe the hunger problem in America is one of quality as well as quantity. They say everyone, regardless of economic background, is “nutritionally starving,” because the food we eat is grown in chemically-saturated soil. The GWI has blossomed from an informal grass roots gardening organization to a working collaborative of urban gardens, rural farms, local academic institutions, soup kitchens and food pantries in the Ohio Valley.

Presenters at the Public Garden Lecture will include Danny Swan, founder of the East Wheeling Gardens and graduate of Wheeling Jesuit University; Ken Peralta, GWI consultant, film maker and MBA graduate of Harvard University; and Terry Sheldon, project director for the Small Farm Training Center, with a background in organic gardening.

The program will be presented at 7 p.m., Monday, Feb. 27, at the Schrader Environmental Education Center at Oglebay Park. As always, the Public Garden Lectures are free and open to the public, and refreshments will be served.


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