Recognized Partners across San Diego County are the driving force behind the strength, reach and impact of the Live Well San Diego vision. Read their inspiring success stories below.
Basking in Nature at the YMCA Kinship Family Garden Project
Author: Amy Zink, Garden Educator and Horticultural Therapist, County of San Diego
January’s harvest brought in radishes, kale, lettuce, arugula, cilantro and parsley. It was a nice haul for any community garden, but this produced more than just a healthy load of greens. For the kinship garden, the crop is community healing.
The Copley-Price YMCA kinship garden program was created to support caregivers, many of whom have begun raising grandchildren under unexpected circumstances, find comradery in dealing with their new responsibilities that are often the source of financial and emotional stress. Many of the families have experienced dramatic lifestyle changes that have forced them to deprioritize their health and make them vulnerable to various chronic conditions.
The YMCA’s kinship program aims to strengthen families by offering countywide services to help caregivers preserve the family unit and avoid the entry or re-entry of children into foster care.
County of San Diego horticultural therapist Amy Zink worked closely with the YMCA to redesign a garden space that is trauma-informed and takes into consideration the kinship families’ vision for the garden. Kinship families and community volunteers, including UrbanLife Ministries, a youth agency in City Heights, as well as County of San Diego staff members, sanded and stained four large garden beds and four small herb beds that were originally built for a rooftop garden. Finally, the kinship group began to plant.
The Copley-Price YMCA was identified as a particularly good fit for the project considering that the families were a part of its kinship support program. CalFresh Healthy Living funds were used to purchase additional garden materials. The YMCA and a San Diego Master Gardeners’ grant also helped fund the project. UrbanLife Ministries supported the project by sanding the garden beds, filling them with soil and helping the families with watering, planting and harvesting.
The initial garden project vision began in January 2022, and families were finally enjoying their first harvests in January 2023 and March 2023. Monthly garden and nutrition education classes featuring the Teams With Intergenerational Support (TWIGS) curriculum -- which focuses on gardening and nutrition to increase children’s knowledge about healthy eating – are also available. TWIGS classes will continue throughout 2023 with older adults from the YMCA and youth from UrbanLife Ministries youth.