Gardening as cancer intervention: APT highlights innovative Harvest for Health program Aug. 5

By Maggie Smith
Spotlight on Agriculture 2019 #3 trailer


When Alabama Public Television airs the seventh episode in its “Spotlight on Agriculture” series Aug. 5 at 9 p.m. CDT, it will place the spotlight on a cancer intervention program that has changed the lives of hundreds of Alabama residents.

Harvest for Health was initiated in 2011 with 12 cancer survivors and 14 gardening mentors. By 2021, the study will have involved more than 500 survivors and patients from all parts of the state, thanks to grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham.

Each participant is a part of the study for two years, during which they are monitored for the cancer-fighting effects of increased physical activity, lower stress levels and increased consumption of fresh vegetables.

Initiated and administered by University of Alabama at Birmingham nutrition sciences Professor and Chair Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, Harvest for Health involves the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, particularly its Alabama Master Gardeners program; Auburn University; and a network of more than 1,700 gardeners throughout the state.

Desmond Layne, head of Auburn’s Department of Horticulture, said the Harvest for Health episode is an excellent opportunity for Alabamians to be educated and encouraged by the stories of the program participants.

“APT’s upcoming episode of ‘Spotlight on Agriculture’ highlighting the Harvest for Health program presents documented scientific evidence that gardening and enjoying the ‘fruits of your harvest’ is beneficial to your health in many ways,” Layne said. “This message is meaningful to Alabamians and, potentially, to people worldwide.”

Previous episodes of APT’s “Spotlight on Agriculture” covered topics such as environmental responsibility in agriculture, plant- and animal-based food industries, nursery and landscape industries, and forestry and wildlife.

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