5 Reasons Why You Should Plant a Garden in Your Backyard

Looking for simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint? Why not start in your own backyard?
Most people don’t think of gardening when they think about saving fuel or energy. However, growing a backyard garden can save significant amounts of fossil fuel and reduce the carbon emissions.  
You will save about two pounds of carbon from entering the atmosphere for each pound of produce you grow for your family, according to Carbonrally. That is because most produce sold in stores must be shipped, often for thousands of miles, and requires many gallons of fuel to get to your table. Your backyard garden will also save you gas. The more yard you have dedicated to a garden, the less you will have to mow!
Saving energy is only one good reason to grow a garden. Here are several more:
Lower your grocery bill. Growing some of your own food in your backyard can put a welcome dent in your food budget during the growing season and beyond. Consider this: the average price for fresh tomatoes in the supermarket is about $2 per pound. Most gardeners get 10 or more pounds of tomatoes per plant. That adds up to at least $200 worth of produce for a modest five tomato plants, which can typically be purchased for about $2 apiece from the garden center. If you grow from seed, the savings are even more: a typical packet costs less than $2 and usually contains enough seed to meet your needs for more than one season.
If you have a small yard, you may think you don’t have enough space to grow food for your family. However, it only takes about a tenth of an acre to produce most of the vegetables one person will eat in an entire year, according to gardening expert Maria Iannotti. Even a small garden plot can produce significant food. For example, you could grow the five tomato plants mentioned above in only about 30 square feet if you trellis them. Even if you have no yard, many vegetables are easy to grow in containers on your porch or balcony.
Improve your health. Eating fruits and vegetables is a proven way to stay healthier. Many studies have found that people who eat more fruits and vegetables suffer less from cancer and chronic diseases such as heart disease, gastrointestinal disease and impaired vision. It’s a lot easier to get more vegetables into your diet when they are growing affordably right in your backyard! Your own vegetables will taste better, too, because you can eat them when they’re freshly picked and still contain the maximum amount of flavor and nutrients. 
Good-tasting food isn’t the only heath benefit gardening offers. It’s also an easy and enjoyable way to spend time in the fresh air and sunshine getting healthy, moderate exercise. Most people agree that gardening is pleasant and relaxing, and it has actually been clinically proven to can help alleviate stress.
Help save the bees. Bees are vital to our economy and to the environment because they are such excellent pollinators. Many farmers depend on bees to ensure good crops. However, our bee population is at risk due to colony collapse disorder. Therefore it’s important to help bees in any way we can.
Planting a backyard garden is an excellent way to ensure that the bees and other beneficial pollinating insects survive in your area. Although many common garden vegetables, such as cucumber and squash, have flowers that attract bees, planting flowers and herbs in your backyard garden will make them even happier.
Teach your kids about nature and healthy living. If you have kids, there is no better way to introduce them to healthy habits than to involve them in growing a garden. Children are much more likely to want to eat vegetables they have grown themselves. Most kids are excited to watch tiny seeds sprout and grow.
Gardening is also a very easy and accessible way to combat “nature deficit disorder” — a term used to describe the increased alienation and stress experienced by children who grow up without being able to interact with the environment. By playing in the garden and observing the plants and animals in it, children learn valuable lessons about living things and their own relationship to the environment.
One last reason to start a garden may be the biggest bonus of all: gardening builds community.
It seems that few people know their neighbors anymore, but when you spend time outside in your yard you may find yourself chatting with the neighbor over the garden fence. And once you realize you have planted more green beans or tomatoes than you could ever use, you’ll be surprised how delighted people are when they see you come their way! 
Ryan McNeill is the president of Renewable Energy Corporation, one of the Mid-Atlantic’s largest installers of American-made solar panels.

Twitter Town Hall Recap

Special thanks to the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection (EPA) for sponsoring yesterday’s Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) Twitter Town Hall “Challenges and Lessons Learned: Lead Poisoning Prevention Awareness.”
The Baltimore-based Town Hall generated many great local and national ideas and resources for enhancing our lead poisoning prevention awareness efforts. Thanks to everyone who participated, especially our thoughtful and engaging panelists:

John Krupinsky @KrupinskyJ: Nursing Program Consultant, Maryland Department of the Environment

Mandy McIntyre @EnterpriseNow: Senior Web & New Media Manager, Enterprise Community Partners

Dr. Cliff Mitchell @MarylandDHMH: Director of Environmental Health Bureau, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Ruth Ann Norton @RuthAnnNorton: President & CEO, Green & Healthy Homes Initiative

Dr. Janet Phoenix @japhoenix1: Executive Director, Coalition for Environmentally Safe Communities
To catch up on the lively discussion, check out the recap below. GHHI’s next Twitter Town Hall will be July 31. If you have a topic idea, please submit it on twitter using #NoSafeLevel.

[View the story "Challenges and Lessons Learned: Lead Poisoning Prevention Awareness" on Storify]

 

#NoSafeLevel Twitter Town Hall on June 18

Please join Green & Healthy Homes Initiative for a Twitter Town Hall to discuss “Challenges and Lessons Learned: Lead Poisoning Prevention Awareness” from 10-11am on Wednesday, June 18. GHHI’s expert staff (@HealthyHousing) in community outreach, legal rights, communication, technical assistance and lead remediation will be joined by:

Ruth Ann Norton @RuthAnnNorton: President & CEO, Green & Healthy Homes Initiative

Janet Phoenix @japhoenix1: Executive Director, Coalition for Environmentally Safe Communities

John Krupinsky @KrupinskyJ: Nursing Program Consultant, Maryland Department of the Environment

Cliff Mitchell @MarylandDHMH: Director of Environmental Health Bureau, Maryland Department of Mental Health and Hygiene

Mandy McIntyre @EnterpriseNow: Senior Web & New Media Manager, Enterprise Community Partners
We would love for you to join us and share your challenges and lessons learned in our shared mission to end childhood lead poisoning. If you have questions for our panel, please submit them on Twitter using the hashtag #NoSafeLevel.
To participate, login to your twitter account and enter #NoSafeLevel into your search bar. When you ask or respond to a question, be sure to include #NoSafeLevel in your tweet.
Sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

National Healthy Homes Conference a Success

Last week several of us from GHHI took advantage of the excellent opportunity to participate in the National Healthy Homes Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. It was wonderful to meet with—and learn from—so many professionals from across the healthy homes and energy efficiency industry, including many of our partners from GHHI sites around the country.
As part of GHHI’s commitment to developing new pathways to sustain the work of creating Green & Healthy Homes, I helped to lead a panel on opportunities for Healthy Housing provided by health care reform and new Medicaid policies. GHHI Executive Vice President, Eric Letsinger, moderated another lively session on social impact financing. We sincerely appreciate the insights offered by those experts who participated in these sessions, including:

Beth Bafford, Senior Officer of Strategic Initiatives at The Calvert Foundation

Michael McKnight, Senior Program Officer at GHHI

Tim Pennell, Associate for Strategic & Financial Partnerships at Third Sector Capital Partners

Jack Rayburn, Senior Government Relations Manager at Trust for America’s Health

Ken Strong, Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development
Many of our local GHHI sites presented important lessons learned including Baltimore, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Salt Lake and San Antonio. In addition, GHHI would like to thank the conference organizers: Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Healthy Homes and Lead Hazard Control and Rebuilding Together; conference presenters: HGTV, DIY Network and National Environmental Health Association; as well as our co-platinum sponsors: The National Center for Healthy Housing and Healthy Housing Solutions. It was a team effort and an excellent event. And also a huge thank you to Mayor Dean, Governor Haslam and the City of Nashville for their true hospitality.
If you didn't get the chance to visit all of GHHI’s presentations or our exhibit, we invite you to check out the links below. We return from the conference energized and ready to continue moving the mission and the effective work forward.
Poster Presentation: A Cost Benefit Analysis of Green & Healthy Homes Interventions
Poster Presentation: Lessons Learned from GHHI San Antonio
GHHI Technical Assistance Brochure
Photo Album
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GHHI at the National Healthy Homes Conference

Green & Healthy Homes Initiative and many of our sites will attend and present at the National Healthy Homes Conference at Music City Center in Nashville, TN from May 28-30. See below for the full GHHI schedule or download a copy.
BOOTH EXHIBITCome visit the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI) at booth #309. We have some great giveaways and look forward to introducing you to our work and our team!
Exhibit HoursWednesday, May 28 from 10am to 3pm and 5:30pm to 7pmThursday, May 29 from 10am to 5pmFriday, May 30 from 8am to 12pm


SESSIONS

Repairing Homes, Rebuilding Lives: Developing a Green and Healthy Housing WorkforceWednesday, May 28, 1:30–2:30pm
Cara Matteliano, Community Foundation of Greater BuffaloJeff Conrad, Center for Employment Opportunities
This session will explain Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Buffalo (GHHI Buffalo), which takes a community-wide approach to improving lives and health. GHHI Buffalo provides health and safety improvements at no cost to homeowners, and employs typically hard-to-place individuals with low levels of formal education, creating pathways to employment in green and healthy careers.
 
Using Creative & Innovative Capital to Advance Healthy Homes
Thursday, May 29, 9:30–10:30am
Eric Letsinger, Executive Vice President at GHHI
Kenneth Strong, Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development
Beth Bafford, Senior Officer of Strategic Initiatives at The  Calvert FoundationTim Pennell, Associate for Strategic & Financial Partnerships at Third Sector Capital Partners
This session will discuss how to successfully unlock capital through big tent collaboration, active and engaged partnerships and understanding the true value generated by outcomes. Attendees will learn about the opportunities surrounding creative capital for green and healthy homes activities; specific examples of how communities are attracting creative capital; and how they can be best positioned to identify and pursue creative capital to advance healthy homes efforts.

Green & Healthy Homes Initiative Salt Lake and Idea HousesThursday, May 29, 1:30–2:30pm
Randy Jepperson, Salt Lake County Housing Manager
This session will discuss Salt Lake County’s success in developing a five-lot subdivision using state-of-the-art energy saving enhancements and water conservation features, and how those successes were expanded into the IDEA HOUSE. Working with its key partners, Salt Lake County rehabilitated abandoned and foreclosed homes to revitalize the homes while preserving the original aesthetic of the neighborhood.
 
Hospital Revenue Streams and Health Care Reform OpportunitiesThursday, May 29, 2:30–3:30pm
Ruth Ann Norton, President & CEO at GHHI
Jack Rayburn, Senior Government Relations Manager at Trust for America’s Health
Session Moderator:  Michael McKnight, Senior Program Officer at GHHI

This session will review recent approaches to health care that are ideal opportunities for healthy homes to be connected with, and demonstrate initial steps for organizations and stakeholders to take. Attendees will learn about the 2014 Medicaid rule that allows state Medicaid agencies to reimburse for services recommended by a licensed health practitioner; waivers that some states have used to expand services to include interventions aligned with healthy homes principles; changes in requirements for nonprofit hospitals’ “community benefit” investments; and opportunities for MCOs to include healthy homes services as a way to provide better care for their patients and reduces costs.
 

From LIGHT to CREATES in Baltimore CityThursday, May 29, 2:30–3:30

Kenneth Strong, Baltimore City Department of Housing and Community Development
This session will showcase Baltimore Housing integrated green, healthy and sustainable home strategies into stimulus-funded weatherization work from 2009 to 2012 using the LIGHT (Leading Innovation for a Green and Healthy Tomorrow) program as an organizing principle. The LIGHT program created partnerships with nonprofit agencies and foundations, and resulted in the establishment of the Division of Green, Healthy and Sustainable Homes.

 
Coalition Obtains State General Fund Dollars for Lead Hazard ControlThursday, May 29, 4:00–5:00pm
Wesley Priem, Michigan Department of Community HealthCarin Speidel, Michigan Department of Community HealthMary Sue Schottenfels, CLEARCorps Detroit
This session will describe the advocacy process that provided first-time state general fund revenue for lead hazard control of homes in the State of Michigan. The presenters will describe aspects of the political process, the role of the state lead program, the process for adding stakeholders to the coalition, and the role of nonprofits.
 

POSTER PRESENTATIONSWednesday, May 28 from 10am to 3pm and 5:30pm to 7pmThursday, May 29 from 10am to 5pmFriday, May 30 from 8am to 12pm

A Cost Benefit Analysis of Green & Healthy Homes Interventions
Brendan Brown, Senior Data Management and Program Evaluation Specialist at GHHI

Preliminary findings and methods for a cost benefit analysis of an integrated Green & Healthy Homes Initiative housing intervention focused on improving asthma health outcomes and verifying Medicaid cost reductions.
 
Green & Healthy Homes Initiative: Lessons Learned from San Antonio
Myrna R. Esquivel, MS, Senior Management Coordinator at San Antonio Green & Healthy Homes
An in-progress look at how San Antonio uses the GHHI model to leverage Healthy Homes, lead hazard control, weatherization and other programs to remediate home-based environmental health hazards and reduce energy consumption.

 

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