Families staying at Homeless Health Initiative (HHI) partner shelters continued to enjoy The Garden at the Nicholas and Athena Karabots Pediatric Primary Care Center, located at 48th and Market streets. They had the opportunity to participate in a variety of events that combine the love of the outdoors with fun and informative ways to learn about healthy eating. This past season, more than 700 people attended community events held in the Garden.

Outdoor garden area The Garden at Karabots grows vegetables and flowers in 1,200 square feet of raised beds and fruits in a 10-tree orchard, all tended to a gardener from The Enterprise Center (TEC). TEC provides business education and economic development opportunities to high-potential minority entrepreneurs. The Garden has a chalkboard wall — a favorite place for children to draw and decorate. Last year, the garden donated more than 1,000 pounds of produce to Early Head Start, also located at Karabots, and the CHOP Healthy Weight Program.

Families from our partner shelters were welcomed to The Garden for events and to relax in the green space. Many families from Families Forward Philadelphia enjoyed Books and Cooks, the Healthy Food and Fun Festival, and Movies in the Garden.

A survey conducted by HHI intern Leah Rothenberg showed our families enjoyed the events they attended and are interested in learning about gardening and health, as well as reaping the benefits of spending time outdoors. In partnership with Karabots, The Enterprise Center and local community organizations, HHI hopes to expand the number of events and explore ways gardening can help families in shelter learn more about healthy cooking and eating.

During the summer, HHI staff visited the Food Moxie gardening project at Stenton Family Manor, a family shelter in Germantown. Food Moxie is a nonprofit that strives to empower children, youth and families through activities focused on urban agriculture and nutrition. Then, Food Moxie staff came to an event at The Garden at Karabots. We hope that the sharing of information will benefit both programs as we learn from each other.