What is the mission of the JGP?
The Just Garden Project builds a just food system and a culture of gardening for all people. We do this by building gardens, educating gardeners, celebrating our community and engaging youth in our work. Through our programs we work to simultaneously end hunger and food related health issues by nurturing a culture of gardening for the generations to come.
What strategies, programs and approaches does the JGP employ to achieve the goals of our mission?
Our gardening and health programs are based on the premise that we can heal ourselves and our communities. By supporting individuals to take control of their food and their health now, we lay a strong foundation of health and wellness for the generations to come. Our strategy is to work one-on-one with low income residents to help them gain self sufficiency and empowerment surrounding their food. The first step is building a garden. This provides a new relationship with food for the entire family/community. Through our garden builds we help low income families gain access to healthy soil and a new relationship with food. From here we encourage families to apply for our education program. This takes gardening and health to the next step. Each JGP gardener who completes an education session is prepared to mentor the next round of gardeners. In this way we are developing a program in which gardeners become educators and activists to empower the next generation of gardeners.
How do we measure and evaluate the impact of our work?
In an effort to measure our effectiveness towards meeting our goals and to continually improve our programs, we conduct a pre and post survey for all garden recipients. Each survey contains a combination of 26 qualitative and quantitative questions that were initially distributed in the spring and again in the fall. Furthermore, our garden mentors regularly report what services/products would be advantageous for garden recipients. Below are some highlights from our 2012 survey results. On average, garden recipients reported the following changes in their health and nutritional activities after participating in our program:
• 67% Increase in time spent outside in their yard
• 60% Increase in regular exercise
• 26% Decrease in consumption of pre-packaged meals
• 54% Increase in access to fresh produce
• 44% Increase in amount of fresh vegetables consumed each day
• 39% Decrease in reliance on the food bank
• 13% Decrease in instances of hunger and missed meals
• 85% of gardeners reported eating more vegetables than before they had a garden, and said their eating habits had changed as a result of having accessible fresh produce.
• 95% of gardeners reported that they shared their garden yields with people outside of their immediate home/organization
This fall we are working with an evaluation expert to go over our systems and to include more information on hunger, health and food related diseases.