Back to Nature: Native Flora for Wildlife and People. The Lincoln University Native Plants Program
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The overall objective of the Lincoln University Cooperative Extension (LUCE) Sprouts and Roots Program (SRP) is to improve the well-being of minorities and other underserved communities through gardening and to promote intergenerational activities in Jefferson City and elsewhere in Missouri. To meet this objective, training is offered on nutrition, wellness, and gardening. The effects of gardening and healthy habits on the physical and psychological health of seniors and youth are being evaluated in an ongoing research study. Recruitment was done in schools, senior centers, Boys and Girls clubs, churches, and other locations with the assistance of the LUCE Paula Carter Center on Minority Health and Aging. Flyers, emails, calls, and personal visits were used to contact potential participants. Children and seniors attended indoor and outdoor classes in spring and fall, and pretests and posttests were provided to determine their change in knowledge of particular topics. Participants practiced their new knowledge to grow their own food at the community garden located on campus. Sixteen adult seniors and 16 children participated in 2012. The farmers market, also located on campus and adjacent to the garden, is offering the opportunity to SRP participants and area farmers to sell produce, baked goods, and other value-added products. An average of 14 vendors, and a total of 43, attended the market in 2012 where fresh or value-added products were sold on Thursdays and Saturdays during the growing season. Some vendors continued selling their products during the winter months. More than 4,000 people of different ethnicities, ages, and genders attended the market on Saturdays in 2012, compared to 1,305 in 2011. The SRP is providing communities the opportunity to develop their own value-added products by facilitating their access to a commercial kitchen recently opened to the public, located next to the market and community garden.