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Lessons Grow In Garden
From left, Jasmine Tapia, Bertha Tapia, Diana Dewitt, and Sariah Dewitt, plant flowers in containers during a community garden planting event held at the Center for Human Services Oakdale Family Resource and Counseling Center on June 22. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader

A community garden was recently planted at the Center for Human Services (CHS) Oakdale Family Resource and Counseling Center to help families focus more on healthy eating and nutritious foods.

Approximately 20 adult and children community members, several staff members, and five outside volunteers showed up for the June 22 planting event.

“It’s always been a vision since we opened,” said Tamberly Humble, Program Coordinator at the CHS Oakdale Family Resource and Counseling Center, about the garden. “We’re going to introduce the gardening and healthy eating into all of our programs… We’re going to continue to add to this (program).”

Humble noted that the group planted tomatoes, bell peppers, watermelon, blueberries, cucumbers, eggplant, green beans, yellow crookneck and zucchini squash, pumpkins, artichokes, and cantaloupe. They also planted a wide variety of herbs, as well as succulents. There are also plans for a winter vegetable garden.

Humble added that the families have signed up to come two days a week to water and weed the garden. CHS Oakdale staff members also made fruit and vegetable smoothies for the attendees and talked about nutrition following the planting.

“The idea is to really reach out to the CalFresh-eligible population and teach healthy eating – the ‘My Plate’ principles of healthy eating,” said Lori Schumacher, program director for CHS. “(It’s to) educate families, children, seniors about healthy nutrition lifestyles.”

Humble added that in Oakdale it’s not just for CalFresh eligible families, but for all people in the community.

CalFresh is California’s name for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Stanislaus County Community Services Agency provides funds to the CHS family resource centers for SNAP-Ed, the nutrition education arm of the federally-funded program.

Humble said that the garden teaches people how to start and maintain their own garden and the Oakdale resource center plans to provide some of the fresh vegetables to families who need it once the garden begins producing.

“This is one of the ways we envisioned being able to creatively teach nutrition,” Schumacher added.

The Oakdale resource center will host a nutrition presentation on Thursday, July 19 and is open to anyone who is interested. Call the Oakdale office for more information and to sign up at 847-0420.

To get the garden started, the CHS Oakdale Family Resource and Counseling Center received a $500 private donation, as well as donations of plants and discounts on fertilizer, soil, and other plants from Westurf in Modesto.

Through CHS’ Oakdale Family Resource and Counseling Center – a non-profit organization – members of the Oakdale community can access services like school readiness, parenting classes, emergency food and clothing assistance and more.

Counseling services are also available on site. For those services that are not available, qualified and friendly staff can provide resource information and referrals. CHS – Oakdale Family Resource and Counseling Center is in Oakdale to assist families and equip them with the skills and resources they need to succeed.

For more information on the services CHS provides, visit