Changing your diet to include more fruits and vegetables likely won’t happen overnight. But growing your own may increase your odds, according to the inaugural group of gardeners at Intermountain Healthcare’s LiVe Well Garden at Orem Community Hospital.
Results from a survey of the group, which included 14 community members of all ages, showed the majority ate more fresh fruits and vegetables and less packaged or fast food as a result of participating in the garden. They also spent less money on food and became more physically active.
“We grew carrots and onions and cucumbers and green and red peppers plus three kinds of tomatoes,” said Dianne Leavitt, 50, one of the gardeners last summer. “And we grew chard, which was phenomenal.”
Leavitt and her husband, Lorin, live in northeast Orem and can’t grow a garden of their own because anything they plant gets eaten by deer. The couple visited their plot at Orem Community every day and enjoyed everything they were able to harvest.
“I became so much more conscious of what I wanted to eat. My approach to food in general kind of changed. Every day I was anxious to go see what was ready,” said Leavitt.
Most of the Orem Community gardeners decided to share the harvest and donated extra food to other people. They also found that being involved with the garden helped them care more about the environment.
Orem Community Hospital is the first Intermountain facility in Utah County to open a LiVe Well Garden. Park City Medical Center and Primary Children’s Hospital also maintain gardens and Fillmore Community Hospital is working to open one this year as well. Although each LiVe Well garden operates a little differently, the purpose behind them is the same.
“We’re happy to provide our neighbors and friends with the chance to learn about gardening and actually give it a try,” said Francis Gibson, Orem Community Administrator. “Gardening is an excellent way to begin incorporating fresh food into your diet and there’s nothing like the satisfaction of growing it yourself.”