Healthy Harvest Billboards

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photo of the Harvest Healthy Habits billboardHave you seen our billboard? It’s on the left side of Route 17 heading toward Wilmington near Bolivia. Look for it! It’s promoting our Steps to Health Healthy Harvest Habits campaign.

The whole idea of this campaign is to showcase the benefits of local foods, farmer’s markets and farmers. Local foods can help us save money, increase our nutrition and enjoy more flavor. Many markets accept
SNAP/EBT benefits, too. This can help everyone have access to food grown
and raised here in our community by our local farmers.

The Harvest Healthy Habits campaign also includes a series of interviews
conducted for CBS 17’s My Carolina segments (you can see them on
YouTube). In an April interview, Extension Agents Avery Ashley and Jamie
Lester highlighted a gardening program they’re doing here in the Brunswick
County that reaches youth and seniors.

This team from our Extension Center here in Brunswick County along with
our Agriculture Extension Agent, Taylor McDaniel have been working since
the beginning of the year with 3rd grade students at Virginia Williamson
Elementary School. These students are directly involved with a school
garden. In the interview, Ashley, Family and Consumer Science Extension
Agent, said most kids don’t like vegetables, but if they can see something grow from the beginning, they may be more inclined to eat it. At the
beginning of the project, the kids were able to pick the vegetables they
wanted to grow. They then planted the seeds and then tended them as
they grew. This project allows them to see the vegetables from seed to
harvest. The kids like the hands-on process (and playing in the dirt, too).
The whole school gets to enjoy the veggies —see them grow and eat them
when ready.

Ashley told me a story about one student who said she didn’t like radishes.
But did try those grown in their garden (with a little hummus on it). She
admitted that she did like these.

Lester is our 4-H Agent in Brunswick County working with youth from 5
years old to 19. She says if kids learn healthy eating habits at an early age,
they are more likely to continue healthy eating patterns as they age. This
project also shows kids where food comes from—not just the grocery store.
These gardens allow kids to see something grow from the very beginning
and they can share this with their friends and their families. This helps
everyone connect to local food.

The garden project is expanding throughout Brunswick County. New
gardens will start next fall at Bolivia and Cedar Grove Middle School. There
is also a garden at the Supply Senior Center.

But this doesn’t mean that you have to have a student in a school or a
community garden to learn about and enjoy local vegetables. Seek them
out at local farmer’s markets. Maybe you’ll find a vegetable that you love
or a new one that you haven’t tried before.

To help you learn more about the foods you’ll find at these markets, Steps
to Health has a NC Harvest of the Month handouts. These highlight 12
different fruits and vegetables and include nutrition, physical activity,
recipes, and fun facts related to North Carolina. These can be used in
schools, at farm markets or at home just to learn more about our local foods. They are available in both English and Spanish. Check them out at
the NC State Extension’s Steps to Health website.

Steps to Health is North Carolina State University’s Supplemental Nutrition
Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) Program. The SNAP-Ed goal is to
improve the likelihood that those folks eligible for SNAP will make healthy
food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles
consistent with the current Dietary Guideline for Americans and the healthy
eating recommendations from the United States Department of Agriculture

So, now you know what that billboard is all about. If you haven’t seen it,
look for it on your next trip up 17 and think about how you can harvest
some healthy habits by enjoying some fresh local foods this summer.

Steps to Health would like to know if you’ve seen their billboard this summer. Taking this quick, four question survey helps the Steps to Health team measure their outreach efforts. Please feel free to take the survey at your convenience by scanning the QR code or visiting the survey link.

STH Billboard '24 Survey (1)

Syracuse is a Family and Consumer Science team member and can be
reached at N.C. Cooperative Extension, Brunswick County Center 910-253-
2610 or by email at