September Monthly Meeting

Our meeting for September was very interesting. The theme presented by our hospitality hostess, Anita McGee, was Africa, with decorations provided by Rose Utendahl and others. The refreshments were provided by many members and included breads, homemade biscuits, honey butter, and lots of jams, jellies, and preserves, and a fruit tray.
Our program was provided by Renee Thompson, Harvest for Health Outreach coordinator with Alabama Cooperative Extension System.  Harvest for Health is a program for breast cancer survivors to encourage healthy lifestyle practices by planting a garden and growing their own food. This is a program started in 2010 between the Comprehensive Cancer Center of UAB and the Jefferson County Master Gardeners.  It now also includes the Community Fund of Greater Birmingham, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, and various groups of Master Gardeners around the state. The Master Gardener volunteers are needed to participate as mentors, while the Extension provides supplemental training and coordinates the seasonal supplies needed for a garden. Master Gardeners are required to contact their participant twice a month; once as a home visit and once by phone or email. But many spend much more time cultivating a friendship while gardening. Mrs. Thompson said that some of the survivors have come full circle, and are enrolling in the Master Gardener program to become Master Gardener themselves. The program has shown that gardening at home is beneficial because it allows participants to take ownership over producing fresh vegetables right outside their door. They are more likely to spend time outside and are more inclined to eat what they have grown. Dr. Sue Webb, Chilton County Master Gardener, shared highlights from a native plant conference she recently attended.