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Highland Cultivators Build Community

en Español

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The Highland Cultivators are a 4-H group in Gaston County that tills, plants, tends, and harvests the community gardens in the Highland Community in Gastonia, NC. The Highland Community is a food desert and also has among the highest health disparities in the state. In 2017 the local Kintegra Health Clinic partnered with the county health department and Caromont Health to conduct community-engaged strategic planning to address a major chronic health problem for the community – obesity. In those planning sessions, neighborhood members decided that a community garden would be a first step towards providing the Highland Community access to fresh, healthy food.
Planting seedlings

Once the strategy of a community garden had been identified by the neighborhood as a pathway to healthier living, the neighborhood invited N.C. Cooperative Extension of Gaston County to the planning process. This issue’s service spotlight is on Marcus Cyprian who led the neighborhood through the establishment of a community garden and has continued to engage the neighborhood in other community-building efforts. How does a community garden engage youth? Marcus gives the following five reasons:

  • Growing Food Can Lead to  Healthier Lifestyles
  • Healthier Lifestyles Improve  Behavior/Discipline
  • Learning How to Grow Food is  Interdisciplinary
  • Nourished Kids are  More Likely to Succeed  Academically
  • Teaching a Child to  Grow their Own Food is  an Intangible Life Skill

Now, that’s what we call a story of community resilience!