Sowing seeds of health: Volunteers bring gardens to 76104

Sowing seeds of health (Photo by Glen Ellman/Blue Zones Project)

The North Texas Healthy Communities’ Blue Zones Project and Southside Community Garden joined forces Saturday (Sept. 17) to build 10 new home gardens in Fort Worth’s 76104 community.

More than 100 volunteers lent a hand to help residents of the 76104 zip code – where recent studies show that the average life expectancy is 15 years below the state average – gain access to fresh produce by growing their own fruits and vegetables.

The volunteers represented American Airlines, the University of Texas at Arlington, SteerFW, Leadership Fort Worth, and NTHC/Blue Zones Project.

The 76104 community currently has a life expectancy of 62.8 years – a decrease of four years since 2018, according to a UT Southwestern Medical Center study. Convenient access to healthy foods is key to well-being and longevity, and gardening also supports physical and mental health, project organizers noted in a news release.

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To date, Southside Community Garden, an effort of the nonprofit By Any Means 104, has constructed gardens at more than 50 homes in 76104. North Texas Healthy Communities (NTHC), the outreach arm of Texas Health Resources that implements the Blue Zones Project, is helping expand that effort by providing funding and support for the 10 new home gardens installed over the weekend. The gardens will enable homeowners to plant seasonal vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, chard, and peas.

With ongoing assistance from Southside Community Garden, residents will care for their gardens and keep the food they grow.

In addition to the gardens, NTHC and Blue Zones Project serve 76104 through Fresh Access, a program offering produce, cooking demos and nutrition education at 17 Fort Worth community centers; and Good For You Pantry sites, where families can shop for produce and other healthy staples at no cost at school and community pantries.