Sowing the Seeds of Health: Volunteers Bring Gardens to 76104

The North Texas Healthy Communities Blue Zones Project and the Southside Community Garden joined forces Saturday, September 17 to build 10 new home gardens in the 76104 community of Fort Worth.

More than 100 volunteers have lent a hand in helping residents of ZIP Code 76104 — where recent studies show the average life expectancy is 15 years lower than the state average — access fresh produce by farming their own fruits and vegetables.

The volunteers represented American Airlines, the University of Texas at Arlington, SteerFW, Leadership Fort Worth and NTHC/Blue Zones Project.

The 76104 community currently has a life expectancy of 62.8 years — a four-year decrease since 2018, according to a study by UT Southwestern Medical Center. Convenient access to healthy food is key to well-being and longevity, and gardening also promotes physical and mental health, project organizers noted in a press release.

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To date, Southside Community Garden, an effort of the nonprofit organization By Any Means 104, has built gardens in more than 50 homes in 76104. North Texas Healthy Communities (NTHC), the outreach arm of Texas Health Resources, which implements the Blue Zones project, is helping to expand this effort by providing funding and support for 10 new home gardens set up over the weekend. The gardens will allow homeowners to plant seasonal vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, chard and peas.

With continued help from Southside Community Garden, residents will tend to their gardens and preserve the food they grow.

In addition to the gardens, NTHC and Blue Zones Project serve 76104 through Fresh Access, a program offering produce, cooking demonstrations and nutrition education at 17 community centers in Fort Worth; and Good For You Pantry sites, where families can purchase produce and other healthy staples at no cost from school and community pantries.