Residents in a community with no nearby grocery stores have planted their own vegetable garden to grow healthy foods affordably, fight obesity and foster mentoring relationships among youth and adults.
"We've got the biggest obesity problem in the county," said Mildred Moreland, a local registered nurse and chairwoman of the health committee for the East Side Task Force. "When grocery stores are not available, the children go to fast food and convenience stores to get chicken and chips."
More than 70 percent of the predominately black population in East and South Chattanooga is overweight or obese, she said.
There are no full-service grocery stores in the District 9 City Council area that includes about 17,000 people, according to Chattanooga City Councilman Peter Murphy, who represents the area. District 9 includes portions of the Amnicola, East Chattanooga, Ridgedale and Eastdale neighborhoods.
The Food Lion at 3201 Wilcox Boulevard is in District 5 and many residents near the Orchard, Avondale and Glenwood areas have a hard time getting to it because they don't have transportation through the Wilcox Tunnel.
"There is nothing on this side of the tunnel," said Mrs. Moreland, who lives in Avondale.
The last District 9 full-service grocery, Pruetts Food Town on Third Street, closed in 2002, according to news reports.
East Chattanooga residents will plant their own community garden on Hickory Street across from the 28th Community Development Corp. The 28th CDC made land available for the garden, which will include cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, turnip greens and onions.
A Step One Health Department grant provided money to purchase garden supplies such as fertilizer, plants and gardening materials. And master gardeners trained at the University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension volunteered to lend their expertise.
To help tend the East Chattanooga community garden, contact Mildred Moreland at 752-4449.
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"We're trying to teach young people that you can grow vegetables at home and if they teach their parents, it will help them," said 68-year-old East Chattanooga resident Lucille Wright, who has taken classes in gardening and lived on a farm.
David Sabir, supervisor of Harriet Tubman Express, brought more than a dozen teenagers to work in the garden this month.
"Most of these kids have only seen veggies packaged in cans," he said.
Residents want to plant enough food to distribute to elderly residents and to have their own neighborhood produce stand where they can sell vegetables to other residents.
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