Making Awesome Changes: Community gardens

Southtown Community Garden provides fresh, healthy alternatives for South...

SAN ANTONIO – KSAT is teaming up with the UT Health Science Center and Salud America to bring you a new series called Making Awesome Changes, showcasing groups and people in San Antonio who are trying to do something about childhood obesity.

For example, a local group is taking the phrase, "If you build it, they will come," and changing it to "If you plant it, they'll eat healthier."

The community garden movement in San Antonio is taking that axiom to heart -- and becoming a part of the movement is one way to make awesome changes in lives.

"Especially like four (or) five years ago, the convenience stores (would) barely offer any real produce anyway, so I noticed there's a problem," said Caesar Valdillez, with the Southtown Community Garden.

While the problem of getting fresh, affordable produce on the city's South Side is not solved, it has eased a bit. Community members, with help from the city and the Greenspace Alliance, pitched in, planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting for their own tables.

The Southtown Community Garden gets its water from San Antonio Water System. Eventually, it will be provided by rainwater caught along corrugated metal roofs.

"As you tend to eat more fruits and vegetables, they tend to fill us up really really well, so there's less room in our diet for fast food and sugar-sweetened beverages," said Kara Trochta, a registered dietician with the Cancer Therapy and Research Center at UT Health Science Center.

Eating healthier, Trochta said, can help prevent chronic disease.

"I think (home-grown fruits and vegetables) taste better," Trochta said. "I think stuff that you put into yourself like the love, the care that you give it when you grow it and when you eat it, it's really good."

Trochta also spoke about the added value of locally grown fresh produce, noting that nutritional value is not lost in storage in a warehouse.

She also said if growing your own veggies and fruit won't work, store-bought frozen is nearly just as good and available at any grocery store.