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DHEC garden to demonstrate benefits of healthy food

Melinda Waldrop //May 2, 2022//

DHEC garden to demonstrate benefits of healthy food

Melinda Waldrop //May 2, 2022//

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DHEC employees plant the first seeds in the agency's Community Demonstration Garden on the lawn of 2100 Bull St. (Photo/Provided)

A new garden designed to demonstrate the benefits of healthy food is underway at the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

DHEC broke ground on its Community Demonstration Garden project on Friday. The garden aims to supply fresh fruits and vegetables, increase access to healthy food, improve diet and promote a healthy lifestyle.

The garden, on the front lawn of 2100 Bull St., will donate its harvests to the Columbia Housing Authority and other charities. Produce will also be used during Bureau of Community Nutrition Services SNAP-Ed nutrition education classes. 

“Across South Carolina we have food deserts in rural and urban areas,” Edward Simmer, DHEC director, said in a news release. “Food deserts are areas that have limited access to affordable and nutritious food such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This limits the ability of community members to enjoy the nutritional benefits of fresh foods that are essential to healthy living and disease prevention.”

DHEC's Community Health Services team is also using the project to develop educational materials for communities and schools on how to plant and grow a successful garden. Going into the ground first will be okra, lettuce, a variety of beans, sweet potatoes, squash and watermelon.

“Often the most effective way to help people improve their health is to give them the tools to help themselves,” Simmer said. “By helping those in food deserts create community gardens, we are helping ensure these communities have a sustainable way to provide healthy food choices for themselves and their families.”