Through collaborations with faith-based and community partners, the Center sought to help empower communities to improve healthy food access and nutrition through the Do Right! Church-based Community Garden program.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of certain chronic diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, stroke and some cancers, but most people aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables. Those who have limited or no access to full-service grocery stores are at an even greater disadvantage for increasing their intake of fresh produce.
The Center addressed this issue by developing a Church-Based Community Garden Initiative. The goal was to increase access to healthy foods in low access areas by helping churches start and sustain a church garden.
The Center offered technical assistance and training to help establish a viable community garden, and then church and community volunteers operated and sustained the garden. At harvest time, church sites were able to distribute an abundance of freshly grown produce to their congregants and the community.
How it Worked
The Center launched its efforts by conducting an assessment on participating church sites to evaluate criteria such as water sources, topography, drainage, sunlight exposure, storage, and fencing. Each church developed a team to facilitate planning and implementation. The Center supplied a Community Garden Plan template to assist sites in processing crucial garden planning elements such as:
- Site Preparation
- Planting Lists
- Garden Layout
- Volunteer Recruitment
- Outreach Plan/Community Events
- Planting Schedules
- Weed Maintenance
- Produce Distribution Plan
- Tools and Supplies
Each church was responsible for developing its garden lot with technical assistance from a Master Gardener provided by the Center. The churches were then responsible for maintaining their garden lot. Produce was usually given to the congregation and the community, but churches were also free to determine whether to sell their harvest.
The Center provided numerous trainings for the churches, including compost training, spring garden training, and fall planting training. The churches also had access to one of four master gardeners available to assist the churches.
The Center provided each site resources to get supplies, such as:
- Gardening Tools
- Soil Test Kits
- Compost Bins
- Rain Barrels
- Raise Beds
Food and More
Community gardens are certainly about growing healthy food, but other benefits are realized through community gardening projects. Community gardens:
- can increase physical activity
- foster a sense of community
- enable people to grow healthy, nutritious food for their families and communities, encourage more fruit and vegetable consumption, and
- help families save on food budgets.
Twenty churches participated in the Do Right! Church-based Community Garden initiative. Most garden sites were located in communities with low access to full service grocery stores. These gardens were open to over 60,000 residents with household incomes that are on average nearly 25% below the poverty level.
Church-based community gardens have thrived. The Center offered participating churches gardening training workshops in partnership with Ohio State University Extension to help sites sustain their community gardens.
Word of Deliverance
Inspirational Baptist Church
Roselawn Lutheran Church ELCA
Tryed Stone New Beginning Church
St. Mark AME Zion Church
Corinthian Baptist Church
New St. John Missionary Baptist Church
New Vision United Methodist Church
Zion Baptist Church
Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist Church
Gaines United Methodist Church
Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church
New Unity Baptist Church
Lincoln Heights Missionary Baptist
St. Simon Cyrene Episcopal Church
West Cincinnati Presbyterian Church
Morning Star Baptist Church
Christ Temple Baptist Church
Christ Emmanuel Christian Fellowship
Union Baptist Church
New Prospect Baptist Church
Southern Baptist Church
 US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Center for Nutrition and Policy. Retrieved March 20, 2012. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs-PolicyDocument.htm
 The Center for Closing the Health Gap in Greater Cincinnati. 2011 Report to the Community. December 2011.