Setting Sights on a Fit Future

As our grant cycle concludes, our excitement continues to build about all of the possibilities for a healthy community in Morristown.  Our survey is complete, we have starting to build our walking path, and we now have a better sense of what local residents want and need to see in order to be healthier.

Our survey had 133 respondents comprised of residents from the area senior centers, parents from children who attend programs at the Morristown Neighborhood House, and participants in Atlantic Health’s Family Health Center. Participants primarily lived in Census Tracts 043500 and 043800, which have media household incomes of $47,394 and $75,309 respectively. Of those who responded, 39.4% identified themselves as Hispanic, 30% as African-American, 27% as White or Caucasian, and 3.9% as Asian.

While 58% of survey respondents said they make time to exercise regularly, those that don’t feel that it is expensive, or that they need additional support. We’re now brainstorming programming ideas for the redesigned garden that include free classes on fitness, walking, yoga and more.

Of those that exercise, 70% said they walk, so we’re confident that our new walking path at the community garden will be beneficial to these residents.

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We began work on the walking path at the Early Street Community garden this summer. We had a landscaper come in to remove stumps and fences. They also cleared the roadway, graded it and then we had stone dust delivered and flattened it out to create the start of a path. The pathway is 3/4 of the way done. The other part will begin this November after we clear out the existing community garden plots to overhaul the entire space.

Also in the survey, we were surprised to find that 73% of residents said they eat fresh vegetables every day. Of those who said they’re not satisfied with their shopping choices for fresh vegetables, 55% say they aren’t happy with the price of available vegetables.

We also detIMG_20150923_125950ermined that 92% of respondents do not grow their own food — a low-cost way to obtain vegetables — and of those who don’t, 59% said it was because they don’t have space to grow.

This indicates that our garden expansion — to double the number of garden plots from 42-94 — will be a major boost to our community. We look forward to continuing our project this fall into next summer, when we hope to reveal the first phase of the garden redesign.

We are grateful for NJHCN’s support!

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We Can’t Do It Alone

In conducting a food environment and physical environment assessment for the Morristown community, it’s important Grow It Green Morristown has strong partners to help with collecting our information. Our reach only goes so far, so we rely on other groups that are also deeply ingrained within the community.

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When considering partners for the effort, we thought of community groups that we’ve partnered with previously to provide access to fresh, local food. In particular, we reached out to groups that are focused on populations near our two sites in Morristown  – The Urban Farm at Lafayette and the Early Street Community Garden. These community groups are interested in helping us gather this information because they are want to help their constituencies improve access to fresh, healthy food and physical activity.

Our first natural partner was the Morristown Neighborhood House. We have a great working relationship with them, providing gardening education and activities, as well as healthy eating tips, to children who attend their after-school and summer programming. We will be going to their facility during pick-up time to engage parents in our survey and provide them with a voucher to receive fresh produce from our farm.

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We are also working with the Family Counseling & Guidance Program that is part of Atlantic Health. This group provides nutritional education to families who have recently immigrated to the area. We have had a long-standing relationship with them where their families volunteer at our Urban Farm and then receive a reusable grocery bag that they can fill up with fresh produce from our farm every week throughout the summer.

We also want to work with the Senior Housing Center next to the Early Street Community Garden to find out what opportunities residents there have for walking paths and obtaining fresh produce.