A recent conversation with one of my daughters reminded me that when we garden and eat well, we teach and model health for the next generation.

You can tell it is summertime in my kitchen. My counters and refrigerator shelves are stacked with loose produce from the garden.

In July and August, the weather in the South can be unbearably hot and sticky. Our consolation is that along with the heat, our summer harvest is in full swing. Garden production is peaking with crops like juicy vine ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, gorgeous eggplant, delicious okra, mountains of sweet and spicy peppers, and seemingly unending supplies of zucchini and yellow summer squash keep us moving as we harvest.

During these months my picking baskets often overflow onto my counter tops. This is where I sort, stack, plan meals and organize piles to share.

The other day my daughter said, “When I visit my friends’ houses, they don’t have fruits and vegetables sitting around all over their counter tops”.

I smiled and said, “Aren’t we fortunate?”

After our conversation, I began to count my blessings. I am thankful for much more than the vegetables. I am very grateful for the opportunities to share and model gardening and a healthier lifestyle to my children, grandchildren, and friends.

I’m thankful that my parents prioritized nutrition and taught me to eat well and enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables. There’s nothing like picking fresh lettuce leaves from a living plant and pulling some radish and carrots from the ground to make a salad. Warm tomatoes straight from the vine are so much more flavorful than anything bought from a store. Of course these fresh vegetables are more appealing, delicious and nutritious and we are proud to serve them. We’re glad that we and our children and grandchildren have the opportunity to experience the texture and taste of food plucked fresh out of the garden. Many people never have this experience and I want to help more people learn to grow and enjoy healthier food.

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Grow Well
Gardening is Fun for the Whole Family & the Rewards are Bountiful

Gardening is fun and engaging and our appetite for fresh fruits and vegetables increase as we grow. The vibrant colors, textures, delicious and different flavors are more evident and more enticing when we harvest the freshest food from our own backyard. We’re fortunate that the soil is rich and the climate is mild enough to grow nearly all year long in Georgia. We can enjoy an abundant supply of fresh organic vegetables all year long.

It is good to know our food sources and care about the quality of the soil, the water, the seeds, and the plants that we nurture. We can avoid chemicals that could harm the environment or our own health. We can plant organic and heirloom varieties and use organic methods of pest control. Of course these fresh vegetables are more appealing, delicious and nutritious and we are blessed to be able to serve them.

In addition to eating well, we can be healthier because we move more. Exercise happens naturally as we plant, harvest and prep for the next season. It is incredibly rewarding to prepare the soil, start seeds, nurture plants, watch the fruits and vegetables develop, anticipate the harvest. There are significant visual and palatable differences as we prepare these fresh foods to eat.


When we garden and prepare meals from our harvest we spend more time at home. We enjoy more time for family conversation as we plant, pull weeds, harvest and prepare delicious meals together. It makes us smile to know that our garden has become a playground and a schoolroom for our granddaughter. She looks forward to and truly enjoys our garden adventures.

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Eat Well
Grow, Encourage & Help Others Access & Eat More Fresh Fruits & Vegetables

We are fortunate to live in a community with easy access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Many grocery stores and organic markets are in walking distance. We love to have our living food source right in our own backyard. However, many others are not as fortunate.

Too many people in our country live in “food deserts”, where fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthful whole foods are not readily available. These are often in impoverished areas, where transportation and access to supermarkets is limited. Fast food restaurants and convenience stores are in walking distance and offer a steady supply of sugary, fatty, processed foods. When access to better food choices and healthier role modeling are absent, foods like these become a regular daily diet. Many of these foods are known contributors to the obesity epidemic in our country.(1)

Unhealthy eating habits combined with sedentary lifestyles are causing obesity in adults and children. Too many are spending increased time in front of computers, electronics, video games and television. This is having significant cultural impact throughout our country.

Obesity in adults and children is such a serious public health issue and it is continuing to escalate. As bad habits form and children become adults, greater numbers of people will have long-term health risks. These individuals face much greater chances of developing life-altering illnesses like Type 2 Diabetes, Dementia, Hypertension, Heart Disease, and Cancer. Unchecked, this epidemic can have serious cultural, social and economic impact on all of us.(1)

I am concerned that increasing numbers of people in the next generation may lack exposure to healthier food and more active lifestyles. Many in this generation may lose the drive and expectation that they can enjoy healthier food, feel better, grow and live more meaningful and productive lives.

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Live Well
Model Healthy Living & Help the Next Generation Grow & Live Happy, Healthy & Productive Lives

If we are fortunate enough to have access to healthy food, support and information we can spread our enthusiasm to others. Let’s live by example and nurture a healthier culture that will support generations to come.

Many resources and information are available to those who may not have experience, space and time to grow their own food. Neighborhoods across America are organizing farmers markets and coops that provide access to very fresh, locally grown food. Many school systems are introducing gardening programs into their curriculum and children are learning more about nutrition, exercise and their long-term health. Community gardens and centers like the Wylde Center in Decatur, Georgia are popping up all over. Centers like this offer many great educational programs for children and adults.

We’ll be offering encouragement and highlighting resources and programs like these here in the GardenZeal blog.

Let’s continue to raise awareness and remind others about the importance of good nutrition and exercise. We can model healthier behaviors and make this lifestyle integral to our family and community cultures. Let’s grow, prepare and enjoy more fruits and vegetables with our children and grandchildren. We can modify our lifestyles and prioritize our schedules to enable more activity and time to prepare and enjoy healthier meals. When we make these changes in our own lives others will see how energetic, productive and happy we can be when we grow well, eat well and live well together.

(1) Sources:

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture

American Nutrition Association

CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Let’s Move