Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Funding Possibility - Your Cancer Victory Garden could be "Awesome"

It's not even officially winter (even though our fields and pond are now frozen)
yet my thoughts are already with Spring, thinking about planting, thinking about
gardens, how the sight of little green things coming up through the soil is
life's hope.

I saw this website today http://www.awesomefood.net/, a foundation that provides
grants for many 'awesome' projects that provide hope from food and wondered if
it would be a potential source of funding for anyone out there who is interested
in getting a garden started at your cancer center. That seems like the
definition of 'awesome' to me!

This organization just awarded its monthly grant to SNAP Gardens, a non-profit
organization that wants to build national awareness that SNAP coupons (formerly
called Food Stamps) can be used to purchase seeds and plants for edible food. I
see a link here with all RDs since nearly 47 million Americans are now dependent
on SNAP benefits to put food on their table (and that is only 1/3 of the people
who are actually eligible, and even sadder and scarier statistic).

I don't know the percentage of cancer patients who also need food assistance,
but I would guess the numbers are high and growing. If your cancer center does
not have the logistics in place (this year) for a garden, maybe you could get
grant money, even from your own cancer center, to start seedlings for your
patients to take home focusing on those patients who qualify for SNAP.

The RD is the perfect professional to make sure all your patients using SNAP
benefits are aware of this aspect of their SNAP eligibility and also champion
this effort within their cancer center. I would love to feature each and every
one of you on my www.cancervictorygardens.com blog!

Two quotes I love and have certainly used before on this blog:

"I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there,
and I am prepared to expect wonders."
~~ Henry David Thoreau

"Life begins the day you plant a garden"
~~ Chinese Proverb

I'm thinking spring, light, and hope during these last short days of the year. :-)

Cultivating health through a garden's nourishment of both body and soul,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

All 1-2-3 blogs mentioned!

Since October is the month designated to focus on breast cancer (research, screening, treatment options, survivorship, and hopefully also prevention!), I was recently interviewed for another blog written by Stephanie Clark, RD and Willow Jarosh, RD who interviewed me as a featured 'expert', i.e., knowing a thing or two about breast cancer and nutrition. :-) However, I was also very pleased that they included questions in the succinct interview on their blog about gardening, so in the end, all three of my blogs (along with my book and website www.CancerRD.com) were mentioned and tied together by very good questions.

The blog written by these two dietitians is sponsored by Bumble Bee tuna with a focus on whole foods, nutrition, and increasing activity. My plant-based and whole food approach to my diet, with lots of physical activity thrown in by both regular exercise and also gardening/farming, is a nice complement to the information provided by their blog. Donations from this blog are given to support a very worthy breast cancer organization based in Chicago called Y-Me? which helped me with emotional support after my first breast cancer diagnosis way back in 1984 when I was only 34 years old.

Why me, indeed! Hopefully some of you will also benefit from Y-Me?'s support services like I did.

In addition, because my readers know of my advocacy for reducing environmental risk of cancer by eating organic foods, I think you will also find the following blog post (Racing for the Cause) very informative, which is also written by another colleague, Melinda Hemmelgarn, MS, RD, and published at www.breastcancer.org.

Thank you, Stephanie and Willow and thank you, Melinda for both mentioning gardening (particularly growing organically) as a very achievable and effective way of decreasing your cancer risk!

Note my first recommendation about gardening is to start small. No one is expecting you to start a farm like my husband and I did! :-)

I will end with two of my favorite gardening (farming) quotations.
To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.
~~ Mahatma Gandhi
“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, 
but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” 
~~ Masanobu Fukuoka

Cultivating health through a garden's nourishment of both body and soul,
Diana Dyer, MS, RD 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cancer Victory Garden at The Dyer Family Farm

Yes, we have been planting and planting and selling and selling thousands of garlic bulbs for these past two years, but our own personal garden during this time has either been entirely non-existent or sadly neglected. However, during late June (maybe early July), after we finally got the solar-powered electric fence put up around our family garden area at the farm, I planted a few very old seeds from my big box of seeds, seeds, and more seeds.

I weeded several times that first week, but then other priorities took over as the garlic harvest began in earnest followed in early August with prepping and attending farmers' markets on 3 consecutive days each week, with the markets finally ending a week ago. Thus, just this week (just this week!) I finally got back to my beds in the garden, first doing some serious weeding and then harvesting a few of the vegetables that managed to sprout (remember, these were old seeds that were planted quite late, i.e. after the summer solstice), managed to survive the weeds, managed to survive the consecutive 100+ degree days during July plus erratic watering.  I'm not sure when we finally got a proper sprinkler for that garden and/or our water source, but I know that nothing was ideal this summer. I think what I am trying to say is that these vegetables are real 'survivors' because they actually managed to survive neglect! They must have really had a strong will to thrive, or maybe they really did thrive on neglect! :-)

So here they are; a carrot, two radishes, and one turnip.  They are beautiful and they were delicious. Yes, they are already eaten. :-)

(Photo: First non-garlic vegetables from Diana's Cancer Victory Garden - at last!)

One of Henry David Thoreau's quotations illustrates the power and wonder of a seed, and I think my neglected seeds beautifully demonstrated that wonder.  Indeed one might even consider the vegetables produced by these tiny and neglected seeds to be 'wonderful'. :-)


"I have great faith in a seed. Convince me that you have a seed there,
and I am prepared to expect wonders."
~~ Henry David Thoreau

Next year, next year! I can't wait to start planning, start planting, start growing, and start wondering. :-)

Cultivating health through a garden's nourishment of both body and soul,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The New Frugality: The Organic Gardner

Time Magazine recently had a great video about the increased interest in organic gardening, entitled The New Frugality: The Organic Gardner.  However, please disregard !! the moderator's use of the word "resort" when he says something like "if you have to 'resort' to using your front yard ............ ".

Yes, yes, yes, use your front yard for growing vegetables! I guarantee you will increase your sense of community and have far more fun than when your garden is tucked away in the backyard. In addition, there is nothing that provides more happiness and a sense of wellness than making new friends and then giving away some of your delicious, home-grown vegetables. Now that would be a "Cancer Victory Garden" that is truly cultivating health!

Cultivating health through a garden's nourishment of both body and soul,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Backyard (or front yard) gardeners 'rights'

I know I don't post much here these days. Life is abundant right now with 'things to do' and most of those are things that must be done in contrast to this blog, which is further down on that type of list.

However, I heard a disheartening story on Michigan Radio yesterday about how 'rules and regulations' in Detroit were making it harder for community gardens to exist (which also made me wonder if backyard gardens were subject to these same rules), and then thankfully I saw the following uplifting piece of news this morning from San Francisco showing how one city understands and is both facilitating and advocating for the benefits to individuals and the community regarding gardening.

May 13, 2011

San Francisco Streamlines Backyard Gardeners Rights. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently voted to amend the city’s zoning code in such a way that now allows backyard growers to freely cultivate produce and sell it without having to purchase a conditional use permit which could cost up to $3,000. The ruling allows urban farmers with land plots measuring one acre or less to grow produce for commercial purposes through a streamlined permit process and at a much reduced cost. Backyard growers will also be able to sell “value added” items like jellies, salsas, herb salts, and other prepared items. Both for-profit and not-for-profit groups are covered by the new ruling. Which is expected to further expand the scope of community-supported agriculture programs in the city. (Natural News, 2011, http://www.naturalnews.com/032171_urban_farms_San_Francisco.html)

So yes, there is hope that reasonableness can preside. I hope Detroit takes notice! Gardens cultivate and nourish both physical health and economic health of individuals and communities. Doing everything possible to reduce barriers is not only reasonable but smart and necessary! In so many words, I believe that is even the by-line for this blog. :-)

Cultivating health through ALL gardens' nourishment of body, soul, and community,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Happiness comes from the dirt!

Bacteria called Mycobacterium vaccae, found naturally in the soil, can stimulate the cells in our brain that make serotonin, the molecule responsible for elevating mood and decreasing anxiety. The blog at the website Therapeutic Landscapes Network recently wrote about the various research studies that are looking into these connections and therapeutic benefits of contact with Mycobacterium vaccae, including increased quality of life (less nausea, less vomiting) when an IV preparation was given to patients with very advanced lung cancer.

I have highlighted the Therapeutic Landscapes Network website in a past posting on my blog as it has a section where it is trying to list all health care facilities that have gardens of some kind (most are more like sanctuaries or healing gardens, i.e., a place "to be", not necessarily vegetable gardens or gardens for more active involvement). Currently the list is alphabetical by name (not even by state), but they are in the process of reorganizing this information into a map, so you can search for healthcare gardens in a particular geographic region much more easily.

I believe this connection between soil and health is truly old knowledge, for which science is beginning to develop a fraction of understanding.

The old people came literally to love the soil and they
sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close
to a mothering power.  It was good for the skin to touch
the earth and the old people liked to remove their moccasins
and walk with bare feet on the sacred earth.  Their tipis were
built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth.  The
birds that flew into the air came to rest upon the earth and it
was the final abiding place of all things that lived and grew.
The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing.

~~ Chief Luther Standing Bear, 1868-1939
Lakota Sioux Chief

Yes, the soil is soothing, strengthening, cleansing, and healing. It is good to touch the earth. I hope you find or create the opportunity to do so for both health and happiness!

Cultivating health through a garden's nourishment of both body and soul,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Goodbye Cancer Garden

I stumbled across an up and coming children's book called The Goodbye Cancer Garden written by Janna Matthies in which a family plants and tends a vegetable garden because the doctor says that Mommy's cancer will be better by "pumpkin time". It looks like a beautifully illustrated book by Kristi Valiant.

I know that one way I have coped during my sessions of chemotherapy is by planning on something special in the future and then focusing on steps here and now to get me there. A garden where one is looking forward to "pumpkin time" clearly fits that bill.

I look forward to reading this book after its publication on March 1, 2011. Until then, enjoy all your winter time reading seed catalogs to get ready for spring planting!

Here is one of my favorite gardening quotes, and indeed one of my overall favorite quotes:

"To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves."
~~ Mahatma Gandhi

A cancer diagnosis is a wake-up call to take the time to "un-forget ourselves". It's the time, sometimes the only time when one is given the time by family, friends, and society at large to rearrange life's many priorities during our busy busy lives, to set aside time to "heal thyself".There are many ways to approach one's healing of course. Some may work as well as gardening, but I can think of no healing therapy that is better. :-)

Cultivating health through a garden's nourishment of both body and soul,
Diana Dyer, MS, RD