Medical students help launch Del Paso Heights community garden

Photo of medical students © 2009 UC Regents
Medical students helping with the garden included (from left to right) Abigail Kopecky, Michelle Gurnari, Charity Hope, Renu Rehal, Ryan Metcalf and Teresa Tseng.

Over the past 20 years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity. The increase is so great, in fact, that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uses the term “obesogenic” to describe current American society.

Overweight and obesity — which greatly increase risks for chronic disease, including heart conditions, type 2 diabetes and some cancers — affect lower income people at higher rates than the well-to-do, in part due to access to healthy foods and safe places for physical activity. To help change this for one Sacramento neighborhood, students of the UC Davis School of Medicine honors society, Alpha Omega Alpha, joined the Health Education Council on Oct. 15 to launch a new community garden on Cypress Street and Harris Avenue in Del Paso Heights.

“Our goal is to encourage healthy eating and physical activity, and the garden will do both. We're happy to do whatever we can to help prevent — rather than just treat — chronic disease.”
— fourth-year student Ryan Metcalf

“Community gardens are a great way to put healthy foods literally in your own backyard, overcoming the transportation and other issues that can put healthier foods out of reach to people living in disadvantaged neighborhoods,” said Ramona Mosley, program director of the Health Education Council. “We know from experience that if people grow their own food, they will eat it. But it takes more than the community to make that happen. So we are happy to have the help of the School of Medicine students in making this garden happen for residents of Del Paso Heights.”

In addition to donating tools, the students helped community growers clear the land of brush and weeds, turned the soil and provided fruit trees.

“Our goal is to encourage healthy eating and physical activity, and the garden will do both,” said fourth-year student Ryan Metcalf. “We're happy to do whatever we can to help prevent — rather than just treat — chronic disease.”