School Gardens

School Gardens

School garden at Floyd Elementary

School garden at Floyd Elementary

School gardens are a fun and effective way to help children learn about the growing process of plants and where vegetables come from. In 2009 Plenty! established a garden at Floyd Elementary with the help of fifth grade teacher, Alice Hardin. Since then garden lessons have been taught to fifth graders and kindergarteners.

In 2011 a garden was begun at Willis Elementary with Lisa Bolt. Now Willis kindergarten, first and second graders have joined in the fun. Students get to participate in planting, growing and harvesting lettuce, spinach, broccoli, kale, chard and more. Lessons are planned to reinforce standards of learning about what plants need to grow, their stages of development and the parts of a plant. Students also practice measurement and communication skills. Tastings help students become more familiar with eating various vegetables like “lettuce boats” and broccoli trees.

Jennifer Bunn has had great success leading the garden at Indian Valley Elementary. Jill Bishop, cafeteria manager at Indian Valley, uses many of the vegetables from the school garden when preparing meals for the students.

Check Elementary has begun construction on a school/community garden this year. In addition, Floyd County High School has started the FFA School Farm. Since research has shown that children who participate in school gardens are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables, it is exciting that all of the public schools in Floyd County now have students growing and harvesting Floyd County produce!

School Gardens

Community Garden

The Floyd Community Garden began in 2010 when David Larsen donated land next to the Northside Mall. The garden has been growing and changing ever since. It is a place for community members to express themselves creatively, share knowledge and friendship, support Plenty!, and garden.

Gardeners are free to plant what they like and Plenty! provides a multitude of donated seeds and seedlings each season. Plenty also offers guidance on garden topics and a tool shed full of handy gardening implements. Stop by the Plenty! office for more information on gardening ins and outs.

Plots are available! Each 10′x10′ plot cost only $5-15. Contact plenty@swva.net if you are interested.

Plenty! has also partnered with Floyd Health Department to create a wonderful raised bed garden at their location. The Health Department has hired a garden coordinator so now participants in the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program can grow their own veggies together.community garden 015

School Gardens

Rev Your Bev!

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Poster made by Floyd County High School students in Laura Cantrell’s Culinary Arts class

You wouldn’t eat 54 cubes of sugar, so why are you drinking them? Stop trying to fuel your body with sugar, and “Rev Your Bev.”  That’s the message being delivered by New River Valley Community Services (NRVCS), youth activists, teachers, and health advocates across the state to raise awareness about the health effects of soda and other sugary drinks.

The Rev Your Bev campaign is led by Y Street, the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth’s award winning youth activism program. Rev Your Bev Day events focused on collecting information on what Virginians think about sugary drinks and what they know about health effects.

“Rev Your Bev” is also spreading throughout the New River Valley. Floyd County High School’s culinary art students created posters to inform younger students about the high sugar content in soda, tea, and common sports drinks. Mrs. Cantrell’s culinary students also handed out pins, bracelets, and cards informing peers that for each sugary drinks consumed per day, a child’s risk of becoming overweight increases by 60% and that it takes over an hour of walking to burn off the 240 calories in a 20-ounce bottle of cola.

NRVCS Prevention Specialist Katie Van Horn took the message to the local Girl Scout’s troop. The girls were surprised to learn that there was sugar in “Vitamin Water.” They assumed that since the bottle said “water” that it would be free of sugar. The girls proudly put on their Rev Your Bev bracelets and pledged to spread the message.

At Floyd Elementary School’s field day, a healthy snack station encouraged students to fuel their bodies with water versus sugar. A few of the local schools have started changing their field day snacks from the typical popsicles, juice, and cookies, to water and fruit kabobs.  The Floyd Moves group also brought the message to the Bluegrass and BBQ Festival at Chantilly Farm.

In Radford, NRVCS Prevention Specialist Connie Clark hosted a Rev Your Bev booth during lunch time for Radford High School and Dalton Intermediate School. The high school students were very interested in learning about the sugar content and were shocked by how much sugar they were actually ingesting each day.  They were also very curious about other drinks they consume that were not on the table.  Both the high school and middle school students were excited to go home and share this information with their friends and family.

To learn more and to join New River Valley Community Services in spreading the message of avoiding sugary drinks, visit www.VFHY.org.

School Gardens

SNAP Double Value Benefits at Farmer’s Market

Mobile Market The Floyd Farmers Market connects local farmers and businesses directly to consumers in downtown Floyd. The Farmers Market runs 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. every Saturday from May through October. All vendors are from Floyd County or one of its neighboring counties, and they’ve vetted so that customers get a good mix of products while also being assured that what they’re buying was made or grown in Southwest Virginia. In one season, customers at the Floyd Farmers Market spent more than $70,000 – all of which went to local businesses and stayed within the community. Additionally, SustainFloyd, which manages the Farmer Market, provides an EBT machine at the market to pay for tokens for purchases from our local growers. The machine allows people to purchase food with a credit card or with their SNAP (food stamp) card. Additionally, SustainFloyd manages a charitable account which provides SNAP beneficiaries with double-value coupons where the consumer receives a double amount in value of fresh market goods. The double-value SNAP program is made possible through a partnership with New River Valley Community Services. Over the last two seasons, SNAP recipients spent more than $35,000 on fresh, healthy food at the Floyd Farmers Market. Farmer's MarketSustainFloyd also extends the reach of the Farmers Market through its Mobile Farmers Market program. The organization uses its refrigerated truck to sell locally grown foods in neighborhoods throughout Floyd County, reaching people who for various reasons can’t make it to the Saturday Farmers Market in Floyd.

School Gardens

Supporting Breastfeeding

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A recent intervention program was developed in an attempt to change social norms around breastfeeding. The project improves policies and supports for breastfeeding in the workplace and public spaces. It builds on existing childhood obesity prevention efforts in the community. The Business Case for Breastfeeding packages are distributed to employers to assist them in developing breastfeeding friendly policies.

The program was piloted in Floyd County, where changes at a few key employers have a large influence on the cultural norms in the community. Lessons learned from this project will be used to replicate the outreach efforts in other parts of the New River Valley.

 The program has already been a great success in Floyd County. The local schools have been supplied with pumps, refrigerators and chairs to create comfortable lactation rooms. While delivering supplies to Indian Valley Elementary School, prevention specialist, Katie Van Horn, was surprised to learn that 4 of the 8 classrooms teachers were pregnant. Principal, Chris Hewitt, said that the new lactation room would definitely be utilized!

Lactation room set up in a local school.

Lactation room set up in a local school.

If this program is implemented throughout the entire NRHD, there is the potential to reach a population of 178,237 people. More specifically, there are approximately 41,260 women of child-bearing age (15-44) in the district who may directly benefit by the interventions planned. There were 1607 live births in the district in 2010 and 1,615 in 2009. If this rate remains constant, 8000 babies could be reached in the next five years!

The primary partners involved in carrying out this grant were the New River Health District, the Floyd County Multidisciplinary Team, the Floyd County Healthy Community Action Team and Smart Beginnings New River Valley. The New River Health District was the fiscal agent and administrator for the activities. The District Health Educator, Laura Alexander, MPH, oversaw the grant activities and provided support to community partners engaged in outreach to workplaces. The Health District Director, Dr. Molly O’Dell, implemented a similar program in Omaha, Nebraska and was been able to provide valuable insight for implementation. As leaders in the community, the members of the Floyd Multidisciplinary Team provided cross agency awareness and support, and leveraged their relationships to facilitate access to employers and policy-makers. The Healthy Community Team (HCT) conducted a county wide needs assessment and prepared a strategic plan identifying a range of needs and strategies for addressing childhood obesity in Floyd County. One priority identified in the plan is to “provide local businesses and public facilities with information and resources to support comfortable and private breastfeeding areas.” The HCT’s Childhood Obesity Prevention Specialist, Katie Van Horn, who is employed through New River Valley Community Services, helps lead outreach efforts to area employers. Smart Beginnings NRV is a regional early childhood development and school readiness initiative serving the entire New River Valley (Floyd, Giles, Montgomery, Pulaski and Radford). The Smart Beginnings Coordinator, David Moore, participates in outreach efforts in Floyd County and will leverage insights from the pilot project to replicate the program in other communities in the region. This intervention aims at effecting an environmental change around breastfeeding. Specifically, it is intended to increase the availability of locations for women to breastfeed, increase support for breastfeeding in the workplace, increase acceptance of breastfeeding in public places, and reward businesses that agree to be breastfeeding friendly.

BF Plenty signBF Country Store signBF business sign

The project will be sustained after funding is discontinued through the ongoing efforts of the partners. The Floyd Healthy Community Action Team will continue to promote breastfeeding under its strategic plan funded by the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. The New River Health District will continue to advocate for breastfeeding through its regional Health Educator. Smart Beginnings will continue to distribute the Business Case for Breastfeeding through its efforts funded by the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation.