The Story of Joanna – a Glassboro Grows Participant

NJHI 2020: Small Communities Forging Hyperlocal Data Collaboratives Glassboro Food and Health Equity Project

Joanna is a participant in the Glassboro Grows program that supports residents in growing their own produce and increasing their fruit and vegetable consumption.  A long-time friend of Rowan University, one of the primary Glassboro Grows partners, Joanna has participated in the Get FIT @ Rowan fitness program for people with disabilities for the past decade. She was excited to join Glassboro Grows and shared a goal of eating more vegetables and less processed food so that she can shedlose excess body weight. She is hoping that working toward this goal will improve her ability to walk without assistance.

Joanna lives in an apartment building, so container gardening was a good choice for her. She has grown cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and basil this summer in large pots in the courtyard of her building. Her friend and neighbor, Sue, has helped to water the plants and shares the produce with her. All of Joanna’s plants have produced vegetables that she has been able to eat and enjoy.   

Joanna’s health coach is Brianna, a dietetics student at Rowan. Brianna meets with Joanna twice a month via zoom to encourage her to stick with her healthy eating goals and to continue walking for exercise.  Brianna has become an important part of the team that is working together to support Joanna in her desire to become more fit and able to move independently. The health coach training that Brianna received through the Glassboro Grows program has equipped her to ask good questions, listen carefully and help Joanna find the additional resources and support she needs to reach her goals. Joanna now meets with a physical therapist who has taught her exercises that are feasible and helpful for someone using a walker. Brianna and the physical therapist have worked together to provide consistent information and motivation to Joanna so that she can be successful in achieving her goals and sharing her food production skills with her neighbors.

Glassboro Grows is an affiliated program of the Glassboro Food and Health Equity project. To learn more, please visit the project website.

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Leslie Spencer
Rowan University