515: Kerry Smith on Harvest for Health.
Mentoring cancer survivors through backyard vegetable gardens.
In This Podcast:
Anyone who gardens knows the benefits, but Kerry Smith is proving it with her Harvest for Health program for cancer survivors. This experiment partners the Alabama Master Gardeners with Auburn University to track improvements in physical activity, diet, and stress markers for people who beat cancer. In addition to teaching them gardening basics and healthy food habits, they spread the love for plants through volunteers who are motivated by heartwarming experiences.
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Kerry is the Home Grounds team Co-leader in the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Working with team members she develops, supports and delivers programs that inspire smart yards for home landscapes.
She is also the State Program Coordinator for the Alabama Master Gardener Program, a large volunteer group assisting the same mission of promoting sustainable, smart yard landscapes. Kerry has worked for the Education Department at Callaway Gardens, been a schoolteacher, an estate gardener, and many things in between.
Her current priority for the Master Gardener program is Harvest for Health, a 5-year garden mentor project in partnership with the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Comprehensive Cancer Center and funded in part by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Through this project, Master Gardeners mentor cancer survivors learning to grow a backyard vegetable garden.
Listen in and learn about:
- The Alabama Master Gardener program and resources
- Harvest for Health program for cancer survivors
- Year long mentorship where 85% of participants continue gardening the year after they graduate
- How gardening improves physical activity, diet, and stress markers
- Synthetic vs organic pesticides for pest management in the garden
- Diagnosing pests efficiently so you treat the true issue
- Ways to volunteer to help other cancer survivors learn to garden
As well as:
Her failure – Overwatering taught her to properly read the signs from plants instead of assuming the issue.
Her success – The Harvest for Health project and the 500 people they will have impacted.
Her drive – The volunteers who work on the project with her and giving people their first gardening experience.
Her advice – Be patient and keep a garden journal, you’ll learn as much from your failures as you do from your successes.
Kerry’s Book recommendations:
How to reach Kerry: