Urban Gardening Program
With obesity rates and diabetes prevalence on the rise, Shepherd is working to improve the health outcomes of our neighbors through a variety of health, wellness, and nutrition initiatives.
Greenhouse, Gardens, and Chicken Co-Op
Shepherd serves an area where residents lack access to fresh produce, also known as a “food desert”. Without a full-service grocery store nearby, it is difficult for our neighbors to acquire fresh fruits and vegetables – essentials to a healthy diet and necessities for a growing child. Our urban Gardening and Greenhouse Program began in 2008 and serves our neighbors by:
- Providing access to fresh foods year-round
- Serving as a teaching resource to enrich educational experiences for our students
- Creating educational opportunities for our neighbors to learn how to cultivate their own gardens, thereby becoming more self-reliant
- Enabling access to fresh, free-range eggs through our Chicken Co-operative
- Providing seedlings for our neighbors, which will allow families to take a self-directed, positive action on the issue of hunger
- Serving as a fresh food resource to Shepherd’s kitchen, which serves an average of 3,200 meals a week
Our Garden and Greenhouse Program allows Shepherd to not only offer fresh food to our families, but also allows us to cook with our own food for meals, teach students about growing through hands-on experience, and grow year-round. Our Chicken Co-Op also allows us to produce farm-fresh eggs on our Shepherd property as well as teach students about farm living without leaving our neighborhood.
Shepherd’s Garden Program also helps supply food to our Food Cooperative. Our Food Co-Op began in the summer of 2012 with 10 families and, in less than 3 years time, reached capacity at 28 families. To participate, a family pays a $2 per week membership and receives approximately 15 gallons of fresh, healthy foods over the course of a year.
Families in the Food Co-Op also commit to helping unload, sort, and distribute the produce we receive from our Garden and other local area community gardens. For one mom in the Food Co-Op, she is thankful that the fresh foods have helped her daughter eat more. Her family is also learning to incorporate healthy foods into their diet, which is part of Shepherd’s overall goal to help our families maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Our Food Co-Op’s goal is to build more community partnerships in order to increase the volume of fresh food intake to help more families make healthy lifestyle changes.
The Shepherd Chicken Co-Op provides fresh, free-range eggs for our families.
We have 16 laying hens, and the birds are cared for 7 days a week by 7 different families. Each family makes sure that the chickens have fresh feed and water, and ensure that the coop is clean and all of the chickens are healthy. In exchange, that family gets to keep the day’s eggs – amounting to 8-10 eggs per day.
The chickens are able to range freely in a fenced-in area 24/7. The chickens are fed regularly with leftover produce from our cafeteria at least three days a week as well as given store-bought feed intermittently. The chickens also enjoy eating plenty of bugs and worms.
Our desire is to grow our Chicken Co-Op to 30 chickens, allowing Shepherd to provide even more in healthy eggs for our families.
Shepherd currently has two honeybee hives on-site, offering fresh, sweet honey to our Shepherd families as well as our kitchen meals served daily. Our hopes are to grow and expand this area of our Garden and Greenhouse Programs to feed more families as well as teach the students about the wonders of bees and how honey is made.
To learn more about how you can be involved in our Gardening, Greenhouse, Chicken Co-Op, and Honeybee Farm Programs, please contact Harrison Osborne. HarrisonO@shepherdcommunity.org
To learn more about the Food Co-Op, please contact AmyW@shepherdcommunity.org
Want to Get Involved?
Volunteers are most needed during planting seasons (spring and fall)
- Fresh Dirt or Potting Soil
- Healthy, producing Chickens
- Gardening Tools
- Praying Mantises