Local produce can’t be far away now

By Meg Callaway

    How can you enjoy working out, eating local produce, and enhancing your total wellbeing affordably all summer? Garden! Gardening builds and strengthens muscles, providing full body exercise for people of all ages. An hour of steadily digging, weeding and mulching is the equivalent of taking 10,000 steps! Enjoying ripe tomatoes and other fresh produce will double your rewards. Canning or freezing some of your crop will further extend the benefits of your labor well into the winter.

    Inviting a friend or young child to work with you may enrich your experience and socially engage your mind in ways that are known to protect against cognitive decline. While you’re in your garden, take care to plant some pumpkins. You’ll have homegrown jack-o-lanterns in the fall, and you can harvest the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are a “super food” containing high levels of fiber and protein. They may also contribute to prostate health, bone strength, and help to prevent arthritis. Blueberries are full of antioxidants that boost your immune system. Other foods you may want to grow in your garden that have crucial nutrients to prevent disease include garlic, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and onions.
    For tips on planting a successful garden, call the Piscataquis Cooperative Extension office at 564-3301, or check out their website at http://umaine.edu/gardening/
    You may also qualify for Senior FarmShare, a program that provides fresh seasonal foods for eligible seniors. You can learn more about this program by calling Eastern Area Agency on Aging at (877) 353-3771, or by visiting www.getrealmaine.com.
    Finally, be sure to check out your local farmer’s market, Dover Grove Market Place, located at the Center Theatre on Saturdays. For more information, check out http://harvesttomarket.com/farmers-market/Dover-Cove-Market-Place.
    We invite readers to offer feedback about this column and to suggest topics for future articles. You may do so by contacting Meg Callaway of the Charlotte White Center at (207) 947-1410 and mcallaway@charlottewhite.org or Lesley Fernow at (207) 992-6822 and lmfernow@rcn.com.

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