Grant Provides Opportunities for Residents to Learn and Grow from Garden

While at Joseph’s Home, residents are encouraged to engage in programs that aim to help them achieve their health and wellness goals and/or to build skills and confidence in preparation for living in their own housing. One such program is the Healthy Eating and Gardening Program. This program was established in 2020 to reinforce the benefits of healthy eating and nutrition and educate residents about gardening and incorporating healthy, fresh foods into their diets. With this program, Joseph’s Home hopes to encourage residents, who are often learning to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart conditions, to garden and to eat nutritious meals once they are living in their own apartment.

Our residents have complex medical needs, including unmanaged chronic conditions, that can impact their likelihood for achieving medical stability. However, some chronic conditions can be managed simply through good nutrition. Joseph’s Home provides balanced, healthy meals for residents while they are in residence, and often sees significant improvement from the time residents enter Joseph’s Home to when they exit to housing. However, once residents secure permanent housing and live independently, it is important for them to continue eating healthy meals in order to maintain their overall health long-term.

JH Garden

In March, Joseph’s Home received a grant from the Saltzman Youth Panel of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, for the Healthy Eating and Gardening Program. Thanks to this grant, residents have worked alongside staff, interns, and a member of the board to establish and tend a garden including fruits, vegetables, and herbs on the grounds of Joseph’s Home. Together, they have been responsible for the up keep and maintenance of the garden, learning how to care for a garden affordably and to incorporate these fresh foods into their diets.

“This garden has been a labor of love.  We recognize the value of food as medicine, and were hoping to accomplish that with the garden from day one, “said Joseph’s Home Health Care Navigator Carrie Hetsler

The staff and residents are preparing for their second harvest of the season. Soon, residents will be enjoying meals provided by Joseph’s Home using the produce harvested from the garden they have helped tend. Since the beginning of the season, the group has planted and tended to tomatoes, a variety of peppers, carrots, onion, broccoli, cucumber squash, kale, collard greens, mint, rosemary, and cilantro.

Even though there are still plenty of vegetables and herbs to be had from this year’s harvests, the staff are already thinking of ways to improve the garden project next year. Health Care Navigator Carrie Hetsler is hoping that the the plants that are grown next year will address the specific needs and requests of residents based off diet recommendations from providers or personal preferences. Ultimately, the hope is that the “green thumbs” that residents may have developed while they were at Joseph’s Home will continue into the future when they are in their own housing.

“I think continuing the garden will be an amazing chance to engage our residents in the benefits of a little hard work, especially if someone moves into an apartment or somewhere a giant garden wouldn’t be practical,” Carrie Hetsler said. “Keeping it up will be a real teachable opportunity, for staff and residents alike, on the difference growing and eating your own produce has on someone physically, mentally, and spiritually.”

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