OL 305 Assignment Two Discussion
Online Learning: OL 305
The Urban Garden: A Small Vegetable Garden for Family Food & Nutrition
Center for Sustainable Development

How to Grow Food in the City. How your nonprofit can start a small space vegetable garden program: Fresh vegetables for at-risk urban families.

This week’s resources:
OL 305 Assignment Two Discussion
OL 305 Assignment Two Homework Instructions

Background Resources on Nutrition
Introduction to the Basic Concepts of Food Security

FAO: Introduction to a Healthy Diet

Healthy Harvest: A training manual for community workers in good nutrition, and the growing, preparing and processing of healthy food.

USDA MyPlate.

Super Simple Online survey with evaluation:
Fruit, Vegetable and Fiber Screener. NutritionQuest.

For participants with a strong interest in nutrition in their constituent communities I am including a list of rapid assessment tools for nutrition at the bottom of this page.

Assignment Two Discussion: Nutrition, planning and selecting seeds for a nutritious vegetable garden.
This week’s assignment will be part nutrition, part desire and part fun.

This Week’s Goal: Decide what you want to grow and buy seeds.

The desire part is “what would you like to eat fresh from your garden?” That could imply something absolutely fresh like lettuce. It could imply that there are things which you can’t find easily at the grocery store—or can’t justify paying for—or you need to buy it in huge quantities. Or it could be a vegetable that simply isn’t available because it’s exotic—like Asian greens, exotic chili peppers, or interesting European herbs.

The fun part is choosing which of these fruits and vegetables to get started with by looking through online seed catalogs—or the seed rack at your local nursery or hardware store. There are an incredible variety of tomatoes, carrots, lettuces, and many other vegetables as well. So it is a lot of fun to sort through the catalogs or the seed racks and pick out some fun and interesting things to plant.

But where the pedal hits the metal is nutrition. You might have a perfectly healthy diet and your goal for a vegetable garden might be to have access to vegetables that enhance your cooking. But if you work with urban or intercity families at risk, they might be living in a food desert, and they might have very poor diets. So what they need is a combination of something fun, something that will grow successfully for them, AND something nutritious.

A sister course to this one “OL 303 Vegetable Gardens & Community Gardens for Family Nutrition & Food Security” is designed for communities of people in developing nations who don’t have access to a wide variety of food. In that course we actually do a survey with members of a community to find out what their typical diet is, and to find out if they are getting the important nutrition that they need—especially for their children.

I will include several surveys on the Student Resource Page so that you can see what the surveys look like. These are “Rapid Appraisal Surveys” meaning they are very quick to perform. You might be able to just have a conversation with several of your community members to get their sense of what they might be lacking in their diet.

I’m also going to include on the Student Resource Page several very good resources on nutrition. But I think that you’ll generally find is that children in families at risk are suffering from a shortage of foods full of protein, vitamins and minerals. Vegetables that you could plant could be as simple as tomato, pumpkin, carrot, spinach and other dark green and yellow leaves, and sweet peppers.

If you look through the resources you’ll find lots of ideas of things to plant—and you could modify your choices through what your families like to eat. Maybe they’re from the Caribbean. Maybe they’re from Africa. Maybe they’re from Latin America. Maybe they are from the Middle East. Each of these cultures will have food preferences and you should encourage them to voice what their preferences are.

Here is a fun solution from the FAO’s “Introduction to a Healthy Diet”: Eat a colorful diet
A healthy diet has a lot of colors. Especially colorful are vegetables and fruits.
red:                         e.g. tomato, red pepper, red plums, red watermelon, beets
orange:                 e.g. carrots, mangoes, oranges, papaya, pumpkin, sweet potato
yellow:                    e.g. corn, grapefruit, lemon, pineapple, yellow bell pepper
green:                     e.g. avocadoes, green beans, kale, kiwi, leeks, peas, spinach
white:                     e.g. bananas, garlic, potatoes

But today let’s get started with you.
What do you want to do with your garden? Going through this exercise will help you understand the process that your inner-city constituents will go through when you launch your urban garden program. So make it fun. Enjoy yourself!

Please move onto Assignment 2 Homework Instructions.

These Nutrition Survey Tools can be accessed on the Student Resource Page.
FAO Dietary Diversity Questionnaire

FAO Guidelines for Measuring Household and Individual Dietary Diversity:

Food Security:
Household Food Insecurity Access Scale Survey Questionnaire

USAID Household Food Insecurity Access Scale HFIAS

FAO Dietary Diversity Questionnaire for Developed Nations

FAO Dietary Diversity Questionnaire for Developing Nations

Home Gardening
Home Garden Survey for Developed Nations

Home Garden Survey for Developing Nations