December 16, 2009 by Robin Plaskoff Horton
Development in Gardening (DIG) is a non-profit organization on a mission to improve the health and well-being of HIV-positive and other at-risk individuals in developing nations such as Senegal, Nambia, Uganda, and the Dominican Republic. They facilitate change by teaching the skills and providing the infrastructure to create sustainable community gardens, thereby empowering people to improve both their health and their earning potential.
DIG installs urban micro-gardens in hospitals, outpatient facilities, and orphanages, ensuring a steady supply of quality vegetables to their kitchens. Through the cultivation of these vegetable gardens, DIG provides sustainable nutritional support to patients, creates income generating opportunities, and offers a safe space for affected individuals to gather, fostering community strength and empowerment. In their efforts to create self-reliance instead of dependence, DIG conducts educational sessions and on the job training for participating outpatients, local gardeners, and interested hospital staff.
Resident in home garden assisted by HUG program
The focus of DIG’s efforts are improved nutrition, food security, micro-enterprise development, home garden extensions, personal empowerment, and social change. Because each garden is unique, DIG customizes it’s projects to meet the objectives of the specific facility. These projects often include vegetable diversification where DIG implements highly nutritious but under-utilized produce such as kale, collard greens, and chaya into the growing plan. After harvesting these vegetables, DIG conducts classes on food preparation and teaches patients how to incorporate the nutritious foods into their diets.
Before and after home urban garden
Though HUG, the organizition’s Home Urban Garden program, individuals involved with the DIG program on hospital sites are given the opportunity to create gardens in vacant spaces around their own homes. These gardens provide nutrition, income, physical work, and empowerment to participants. DIG is trying to change the idea that food production is only reserved for large rural areas and can only happen during certain times of the seasonal calendar.
Dominican Republic garden
Individuals with HIV are at a higher risk for food insecurity, meaning they are continually threatened with hunger, poor nutrition, and are frequently confronted with food shortages. In their Garbage to Gardens program, DIGG teaches people how to garden with very limited resources utilizing recycled “free” alternative containers such as tires, rice sacks, water bottles, juice boxes, cans, broken buckets, and PVC pipes.
Garbage to Gardens teaches gardeners how to plant using recycled “free” containers.
These gardens transform weedy, trash-ridden lots behind hospital facilities and homes into beautiful calming green spaces at the same time providing fresh produce, income and therapy, all creating a healthier and more sustainable community.
In order to meet the needs of future hospitals, outpatient facilities, and orphanages, funding is currently DIG’s priority. Gifts range from $10 for Seeds of Change, $30 for an herb garden, $600 for a water tank, to $2000 for a Facility Garden. For more information or to make a donation, contact DIGG at email@example.com.