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Shelby County Community Garden Reaping the Harvest

 

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service - Shelby County office is pleased to announce that the community garden is off to a great start.  To date, 342 pounds of vegetables have been harvested and donated to the Shelby County Outreach Ministry – Senior Nutrition Site to supplement the senior adult lunch program and for distribution to homebound elderly in our county.
 
This project was established to fulfill the growing need in Shelby County of food insecure senior adults and to also provide fresh vegetables that are high in essential vitamins to this population to improve their nutritional health.  “Vitamin A, C and E are essential to the good health of all humans, in particularly our senior adults, that may not receive ample supply through canned and processed foods,” said Jheri-Lynn McSwain, Family & Consumer Sciences County Extension Agent.  
 
A recent study published by the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Heath found that older (age 65-93) rural adults fail to meet the recommended nutrition guidelines based on the food guide pyramid.  In addition, this study also identified older rural adults as having high levels of obesity and overweight concerns and most of these adults had inadequate dietary intake (low folate, magnesium, and Vitamin E) and were at nutritional risk.  Results from a nationally representative study confirm that older rural adults fail to meet recommendations for daily fruit and vegetable consumption.
 
The Shelby County Community Garden project was kicked-off in February 2016 after gaining approval from the Shelby County Commissioners Court.  Numerous local civic organizations and business rallied to the support of this project by providing funds to get the garden started.  “We truly appreciate all the support of the local residents and organizations to back this important life-changing project,” stated Lane Dunn, Agriculture & Natural Resource County Extension Agent.
 
“Volunteerism is integral to the success of this project.”  Dunn went on to say, “We have had 4-H youth assisting with the maintenance and harvesting of the garden, but would like to invite any interested individuals to contact us if you would like to lend a helping hand.”
 
This past spring the Extension agents planted zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, and sweet corn.  In addition, they are conducting variety trials on four hybrid tomato species to determine which grows best in Shelby County and has the finest taste between these varieties.  Okra, purple hull peas, peppers, and sweet potatoes are growing and will be harvested in the near future.  This fall, with the assistance of volunteers, the Extension agents are planning to plant broccoli, cauliflower, and onions, to name a few vegetables.
 
For more information on the community garden or to volunteer, contact Shelby County Extension agents, Jheri-Lynn McSwain at jlmcswain@ag.tamu.edu or Lane Dunn at jldunn@ag.tamu.edu  or call the Extension office at 936-598-7744.  
 

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