Holistic Healthy Living
By: Piper Starnes
Reagan Ross discusses her experience working in the community garden with the new members of the CI team.
The Creating a Health Hub for SC Rural Communities: Prosperity, SC Creative Inquiry project is feeding minds and bodies with education and nutrition. The project is led by Dr. Kirby Player, Coordinator of the Palmetto LEAF (Leadership for the Environment, Agriculture and Forestry) program and lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Sciences. The team is collaborating with non-profit organizations and community members in Prosperity, SC to develop a 2-acre plot into a wellness park to encourage healthy living in the rural area. This project is supported by the Carr Family Endowment, a gift from the Carr family to support Creative Inquiry projects in agricultural and rural economic development (see more on pg. 54). Development of the wellness park and related activities are coordinated through the Living Water Foundation and in cooperation with the adjacent Lovelace Family Medicine Center.
While recognizing the value of modern medicines, this Creative Inquiry team wants the community to learn additional ways to stay healthy. This led them to take a more accessible approach with holistic health—the practice of basing a medical diagnosis or treatment method on an individual’s diet, exercise routine and overall lifestyle. “The benefits of this kind of healthcare include physical activity, improved mental health and community betterment,” Player said. The Living Waters Foundation Wellness Park plan includes a community garden, health education center, walking trails and green spaces to promote holistic health. Guy Best, a sophomore biological sciences major, joined this Creative Inquiry project to experience a unique research opportunity before applying to medical school. “This project, which also allows for interaction with Dr. Oscar Lovelace, a 1982 Clemson alumnus, provides a learning opportunity for those interested in the medical profession,” Best said.
To prepare for the park’s programming, Reagan Ross, a senior food science and anthropology double major, interned with the Living Waters Foundation in the summer of 2020 to further the project’s progress. Ross researched community capacity building and conducted ethnographic fieldwork. “[This work] determines what the communities’ social perceptions of the garden are, and how they are reflected from a socio-economic standpoint,” Ross said. Understanding these relationships within the community will help sustain the collective participation in the wellness park’s programming.
When designing and managing a garden, there are challenges to consider, including how to keep out unwanted visitors such as white-tailed deer. The team is developing a barrier system to prevent the deer from eating the garden. “Often, it is very easy to overlook the importance of wildlife and wildlife management to the community. As someone who is knowledgeable in this area, I have been able to help come up with ways to help exclude deer from the garden,” Anaston Broom, a graduate student assistatnt in agricultural education, stated. “By placing two fences four feet apart, deer damage is less frequent, but financing the fence and other park features are bigger challenges,” Broom said.
The Creative Inquiry team anticipates offering many program options to improve nutrition and health education literacy in the future. Amanda Sanko, a sophomore biological studies major, expressed intentions to incorporate cooking classes, gardening workshops as well as other opportunities. “I think this is a really interesting part of the project because it will not just promote eating healthy, but also show people how they can do it,” Sanko said. The team hopes their work will help improve the health of the rural community, potentially contributing to positive economic development. With time and nurturing, the seeds planted by the Creating a Health Hub for SC Rural Communities Creative Inquiry team will grow into a sustainable, healthy community.
This project was supported by the Carr Family Endowment.
Concept art of the community garden’s sectioning, along with placement planning of produce.
Barbara J. Speziale