Welcome to Food4LYF

a fun way to become part of the Bellingen High School Community Garden.

The Food4LYF Program:

– We start with nature games or a guided meditation in the garden.

–  Then we break out into gardening activities, sharing knowledge, identifying plants, and getting our hands dirty.

– Lastly, we create and enjoy a meal together using produce from the garden.

We Need You!

Food4LYF needs more volunteers! Share knowledge, learn practical gardening skills, meet new people, spend time outdoors, and contribute to a worthwhile community project. Working with Children check or application number required.

In-School Program

Food4LYF runs as a sport option for Bellingen High School students and is held on Wednesdays from 1.40-3.10pm during school terms. Volunteers are required from 1.30pm to 3.15pm. 

Project Coordinators

Jane Grant and Dave Pfister are the project coordinators of this program and the program contact is Amy Denshire.

  • How much does it cost?

    At Food4LYF, we share a snack together after a session of gardening. If you can, a small donation towards this is appreciated. Give only what you can afford – or give some extra to help the garden thrive! Be part of a unique experience that gives people the opportunity to eat out and be social regardless of their financial situation.

  • What to Expect

    Ingredients where possible are sourced from the garden. You can choose between helping prepare food and harvesting from the garden or gardening. Through both we share knowledge, have fun, help the garden flourish. Food4LYF is a family-friendly, alcohol-free gathering. Other refreshments will be provided.

  • What to Bring

    Hat, Sunscreen, covered shoes, donation. Tools are provided, but BYO fave gardening tools. Contributions of materials are always welcome (e.g. seedlings, seeds, mulch, shredded paper, compost, extra produce to bump up the meal etc)

  • How to Get There

    Enter the Garden from Crown street entrance to Bellingen High School. The community garden is located within the school on flat land with good accessibility. The garden is open to the whole community with access to the gardening public after school hours and on weekends.

Project Benefits

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.

Email Amy to get involved!