Sprouting Change at Cowtown Farmers Market
At a recent Cowtown Farmer’s Market, a group of volunteers from The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth set up a booth to hand out free sprouting kits. The package included a five-salad microgreen seed mix, a sprouting jar with a lid, and an educational booklet.
The HSC volunteers were there to promote the grant-funded program, Sprouting Change: You, Food, and the Environment — a community-based initiative aimed to address food insecurity across North Texas through education on sustainability, nutritional literacy, and whole health. To combat the lack of access to fresh, high-quality produce in food desert areas, community members are given the materials to easily grow their own food using the power of sprouts.
Sprouting Change will be back at the Cowtown Farmers Market on Saturday, April 15. Volunteers at the booth will be passing out free sprouting kits from 8 a.m. to noon.
“We believe that everyone should have access to fresh, healthy food,” said Katelyn Reeves, a partner of the program and HSC Community Garden coordinator. “By providing people a way to grow their own food, we can promote sustainable practices and work together to make a real difference in our community.”
Microgreens can be sprouted indoors and are ready to eat in about a week. Not only are these greens tasty, but they pack a vitamin-rich punch. They’re full of vitamins A, E, C and K, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, selenium and zinc.
Many families in North Texas may not be getting all the nutrients they need. County data shows that 11 zip codes in Tarrant County have been identified as lacking access to affordable fresh nutritious food. Only 19% of stores in those areas offered fresh vegetables, and 43% offered fresh fruits. Cities not meeting nutritional needs are more susceptible to chronic health conditions, a weakened immune system, and other major health concerns. This gap in access is what drove HSC staff members of The Gibson D. Lewis Library and the Office of Sustainability to create the Spouting Change program.
In addition to attending the Cowtown Farmers Market, the group also hosts educational sessions and community classes.
Gibson D. Lewis Library staff members helped ensure the longevity of the program by working it into regular community outreach efforts. Sprouting Change: You, Food, and the Environment has become a hit among the free classes taught by library staffs across North Texas public libraries. The program hosts a fully illustrated booklet in English and Spanish that contains sections on how to read a nutritional label, healthy eating benefits, how to container garden, composting 101, sustainability, environmental impacts and more.
In addition, library staff filmed videos on campus with the Division of Academic Affairs. The filmed content offers visual instructions for how to use the sprouting kit and grow your own food at home as well as other environmental content. The group has aimed for longevity for the program, hosting classes and building a website page dedicated to the initiative.
“I’m so proud of the work of our team and the opportunity to be a part of what this initiative sets out to achieve,” said Michele Whitehead, library director. “Working to reduce food insecurity and lead the community to sources of quality nutrition information are directly aligned with the service and engagement missions of Lewis Library. This initiative demonstrates how powerful it can be when libraries and other departments like sustainability work together in supporting whole and environmental health. ”
Overall, the Sprouting Change program’s attendance at the Cowtown Farmers Market was a success, as they were able to share their message on sustainability and healthy eating with a large audience. The program continues to inspire collaboration among others, and their efforts will help make a positive impact on the health and well-being of North Texas Families.
To learn more about the program and access the free, downloadable content visit: library.unthsc.edu/sprouting-change.
This project was supported by the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health through the awarded Express Health Information Outreach grant. This grant provided funding for the sprouting kit material and creation of printed educational booklets.
Sprouting Change: You, Food, and the Environment was created with the talents of many HSC staff members from both the Gibson D. Lewis Library and the Office of Sustainability. The creators include Madi Wright, Lorraine Sheldon, Sandy Bauman, Katelyn Reeves and Rebecca Green.
Other supporting faculty and staff members include Dr. Theresa Wagner, Dr. Dorothee Honhon, Bobbie Bratton, Molly O’Brian, Kasondra Mckay, Michele Whitehead, Brandy Klug, Kayleen Lam, Hayley Yording, Krystal Schenk and Katie Pierce Farrier.