Burlington Housing Authority
How did the gardens start?
Just a short drive away from campus, the BHA is an organization that provides government-subsidized housing to those in need. Although there are eight different neighborhoods within the BHA, this project focuses on just two of them, with hopes of expanding to all eight in the future.
Situated just outside of downtown Burlington, the BHA is in a food desert, meaning that its residents have limited access to fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables. By building gardens in two of the neighborhoods, the hope was to make healthy produce accessible.
This project began when an Elon student applied for and received the Impact Alamance Community Partnership Grant, which provided the funds to build gardens at the Burlington Housing Authority. However, the project was quickly expanded to focus on more than just the physical gardens.
Main Goals of the Gardens
- Provide residents of the BHA with access to organic, healthy vegetables by implementing community gardens
- Put on community events that foster a sense of community engagement and incentivize healthy eating among residents.
- Create a long-term sustainability plan for the gardens to ensure their longevity.
About the Gardens
Willow Creek is a neighborhood that primarily houses elderly residents above the age of 50. With high rates of chronic illnesses and disabilities, these residents may have a more difficult time grocery shopping or going to SNAP-friendly farmers’ markets. It is also important for this population to focus on healthy eating and exercise to combat illness and disease. These are some of the reasons that gardens were built in this neighborhood.
Crump Village is a family-oriented neighborhood primarily geared toward young parents and their children. This is also where the after-school program for the BHA is centered. It is important that children learn about healthy eating and sustainable food options early on so that they can carry this knowledge into their adult lives. It is for this reason that gardens were planted at Crump.
Throughout each gardening season, there are multiple garden workdays at both Willow Creek and Crump Village where residents can help plant vegetables, pull weeds, or harvest food. It is an opportunity to bring the community together and to give residents ideas of how to use the gardens.
Once or twice a month, Elon students host garden dinners, meaning that they bring dishes that can be found in the community gardens. This could be anything from veggies and hummus to a roasted veggie salad. Regardless, these events brought BHA residents together for a meal, and also showcased how garden vegetables could be easily incorporated to their diets.
Healthy Cooking Classes
These classes give residents the chance to be hands-on and learn how to make new recipes using vegetables from the garden. With a recipe in mind, such as chili or salsa, Elon students facilitate the class, allowing residents to work together to make a healthy dish.
After-School Classes at Crump
Every week, Elon students go to the BHA and teach an environmental class about sustainability to the students in the after-school program. Topics include composting, recycling, importance of pollinators, and environmentally conscious eating. Additionally, the children get the chance to go to the garden and harvest their own food for a snack.
It is easy to get involved with the community gardens at the BHA! You can help plan community events, plant new things, or even help maintain the gardens – there is always work to be done!