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Sandy Naimon Breakfast Club Cultivates Vegetables--and Much More--Through Victory Garden Initiative

07/02/2012

Milwaukee, WI - On June 29th, members of the JFS’ Sandy Naimon Breakfast Club sampled the fruits--and vegetables--of their labor at a salad party. The main course included lettuce, dill, cilantro, radishes and other fresh produce from the garden planted by the club in May . The activity was part of the Victory Garden Initiative, a grass roots non-profit organization that empowers communities to grow their own food.

All produce gathered from the four raised garden beds, located on the south side of the JFS building, will be used solely for JFS clients. Besides healthier eating, Breakfast Club members may also benefit from the fresh air, exercise and sense of accomplishment that gardening can provide.

“Growing a garden is a really great visual for life, in general. You have to work at it to get an outcome. And, there are going to be things that you can’t control--like animals and bad weather--so learning how to cope with the unexpected can provide good life skills training,” said Dawn Giorno, JFS Exceptional Needs Care Manager.

Before planting their own garden, Breakfast Club members and staff received handson training during a field trip to Growing Power, a historic two-acre urban farm in the City of Milwaukee. Members toured the facility’s greenhouses, hydroponic systems for growing fish, outdoor pens for goats, hens and other livestock, and an apiary with 14 beehives.

“I thought that the worms were cool. And, I liked the fish...the tilapia. And, they had goats and chickens. I liked the animals best of all,” said Harry, a member of the Breakfast Club.

Breakfast Club members are maintaining the gardens throughout the growing season by watering, pulling weeds and harvesting. Future plans include healthy cooking classes and a special celebration for the Jewish fall harvest holiday of Sukkot.

The Sandy Naimon Breakfast Club is an award-winning program of Jewish Family Services. The club meets weekly and provides support and social interaction for adults with severe and persistent mental illness. This program includes experiences that enhance daily living skills and several day trips a year to sites or events of interest. Sandy Naimon, who struggled with mental illness most of her life, helped her fellow club members gain social skills and self-confidence. The program is named in Sandy’s memory by her parents.

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