Food4LYF continues in its sixth year with healthy enrolment numbers (33 students enrolled this term). Food4LYF has shown positive outcomes for participants – socialisation, empowerment, skill building, physical activity, spending time outdoors, elevated mood, healthy eating, reduced stress, connection with others and connection with environment. The project facilitates knowledge sharing, intergenerational connection, breaking down the barriers of ageism, and improved health and wellbeing.
“It feels great to get outside and get active” (Lisa)
“It gives me something to look forward to in my week” (Paul)
Community gardening is good for you
Research shows the overwhelming benefits in relation to health and wellbeing of spending time outdoors, gardening, and with others.
Gardening is considered a moderate to heavy intensity physical activity, and has been linked to significant beneficial changes in cholesterol and systolic blood pressure. Gardening helps combat obesity, and improve sleep, leads to decreased cortisol levels and positive moods which can promote relief from acute stress.
Benefits of gardening include weight loss, stress reduction, illness and injury recovery, healthy diets, skill sharing, learning, improved concentration and productivity. Research has also shown that gardening has health benefits such as increasing fruit and vegetable intake. The combination of moderate physical activity and increased consumption of fruit and vegetables has been reported to dramatically reduce an adult’s risk for many chronic diseases.
A 2003 study found that adults with a household member who participated in a community garden consumed fruits and vegetables 1.4 more times per day than those who did not participate, and they were 3.5 times more likely to consume fruits and vegetables at least 5 times daily.
Share your knowledge and learn new skills
Food4LYF allows people to contribute to their community, share knowledge, learn practical gardening skills and recipes for healthy eating. Feeling connected to others can strengthen a person’s mental health and wellbeing. Build your skills in permaculture-based gardening, cooking, communication and collaboration. Learning can boost self-confidence and self-esteem, help build a sense of purpose, and contributes to general wellbeing.
Spend time outdoors
Exposure to sunlight helps to elevate mood and being close to green space helps combat depression. Spending time in nature is associated with reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety.
On the whole, Australia’s rural populations have poorer health than those in the city. This project takes place is a rural area within a region of lower socioeconomic status. The number of depressed individuals and the rate of suicide amongst rural communities are known to be consistently higher than in urban communities. Current research suggests that there is a significant rural-urban health status differential and that a number of key mental health issues in rural areas require special attention and intervention
Connect with all ages
Ageism is one of the most enduring and widespread forms of prejudice and particularly affects older and younger people. Intergenerational programs, such as Dig’n’Dine, can help to deal with the isolation of the older people and misunderstandings of youth by bringing both generations together. Both groups can help each other to understand embrace their similarities and differences, and encourage learning about the other group.
Young people who have positive role models in their lives have a positive self-image. Some students don’t have grandparents nearby and benefit from developing relationships with older people. Being taught by an older generation can help children develop greater comprehension and empathy skills. By interacting with and learning from youth, older people can have a better grasp of new technologies and expand skills they already have. Research suggests that this interchange contributes to participants (particularly older people) experiencing positive outcomes in physical and mental health.
Benefits for older people
Food4LYF allows older people in our community, who are often isolated, to benefit by connecting with others and with the garden. This project taps into a knowledge and skill set that many older people possess (gardening / harvesting / cooking) and gives people the opportunity to eat out, get active and be social. We have noticed a sense of pride amongst the older volunteers, as they hand down their gardening knowledge to the High School students and other community members.
According to the Australian Health Survey 2011-12, only 9.6% of persons aged 65-74 years consume the recommended intake of fruit and vegetables (2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables). Studies examining fruit and vegetable consumption of older adults report experiences with foods eaten from a garden (past or present), the availability of fresh produce, and eating with others can enhance fruit and vegetable consumption of this population.