TWIN FALLS, Idaho — The city of Twin Falls is preparing for year two of its community gardens. These gardens help get people outside and expand access to fresh produce.
For the upcoming year, the hope is to continue to bring accessible produce to Downtown Twin Falls.
“All summer long I watched people walking up and down Shoshone multiple times carrying vegetables that they had harvested from the gardens,” said Mandi Thompson, the Assistant To The City Manager, of Twin Falls.
The city is planning for the possible expansion of community gardens will take place in early spring. Expanding the program would help get more of the Twin Falls community involved in the gardening process, and make fresh produce more accessible.
“So where we are right now, standing in downtown Twin Falls we would refer to it as a food desert because there is not a lot of opportunity for individuals that live down here that maybe don’t have access to cars to get to a grocery store,” said Thompson.
The University Of Idaho Master Gardener Program currently provides technical support when it comes to maintaining the city’s community gardens.
The city of Twin Falls received funding through the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health’s Community Transformation Grant, which serves as a community-wide grant to improve access to physical activity and nutritious food for children in the community.
A goal for this project is to bring gardening into classrooms at schools that do not yet have gardens with the help of the University of Idaho, starting in January.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, gardens can offer “physical and mental health benefits by providing opportunities to eat healthy fresh fruits and vegetables and engage in physical activity, skill building, and creating green space.”
When it comes to gardening, students at Harrison Elementary School know what they are doing.
“We pick weeds to make sure our garden stays healthy and we also pick the vegetables that are ready,” said Alanah Rodriguez, 4th grade.
The school has had its own successful outside garden for around six years, maintained by staff and students. Students learn how to garden, sell harvested fruits and vegetables, and have interactive learning opportunities.
“I feel good because it’s good to give our food to the community,” said Rodriguez.
Money earned by selling the harvested produce goes back into the school, to buy necessary supplies.
“I like it because we get to plant a bunch of different vegetables and we get to use the money to fund the school,” said Mazey Patterson, 4th grade.
Harrison Elementary will plant seeds again this spring, and begin selling their produce in August.
For information on how to get involved with a community garden, you can reach out to the University of Idaho.