Friday, May 28, 2010

How Does Your Garden Grow?

The WISEWOMAN Entrepreneurial Gardening Project is expanding into five new counties this year. Along with Ogemaw, women in Antrim, Charlevoix, Crawford, Missaukee, and Otsego counties will have the opportunity to participate. Once again, we are partnering with Michigan State University Extension in all of these counties.

Here is how it works. The WISEWOMAN Lifestyle Counselors recruit WISEWOMAN participants who are interested in gardening. The participants are then referred to MSU Extension. The Extension Educators and Program Assistants provide nutrition education, while the Master Gardeners share their knowledge to help the WISEWOMAN participants get the most out of their gardens. For the entrepreneurial part of the project, the women learn how best to market their fruits and vegetables at local farmer’s markets.

Participant Garden From 2009 Project
The project has real and immediate benefits for the WISEWOMAN participants. The women learn nutrition information and gardening skills. They get physical activity working in their gardens. They get to eat fresh fruits and vegetables from their own gardens, and they can earn money by selling their extra produce.

Along with the immediate benefits, we believe we will also see long-term benefits. These include the health benefits that come from increasing physical activity and increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables the women eat. They also include psychological and emotional benefits that come from increased self-esteem, decreased stress, and being part of a social network.

Keep checking the WISEWOMAN blog to find out more about this project as it unfolds!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Meeting of the Minds

The Michigan WISEWOMAN Program Meeting took place in Traverse City May 5, 2010. We had a great meeting, with all of our WISEWOMAN agencies represented!

We started out the day with a few updates, then we moved into a fascinating presentation by Candice Lee about Serving Women with Disabilities. Candice had some practical information about how to effectively work with women with disabilities. One of the big take-home messages was to ask the woman with a disability how we can best serve her rather than making assumptions about what is best for her. You can see the slide show at

After a networking break, we got back together and worked through an interactive session on Tough Cases / Handling Difficult Situations. The Lifestyle Counselors brought real examples of tough WISEWOMAN cases (de-identified of course). There was a wealth of information and ideas in the room. We were all able to learn from each other.

During lunch, Cecile Chapman from MSU Extension donned her alter ego, Marvella, and presented a hilarious and uplifting tale of a woman who had to learn how to take care of herself after having a heart attack.

After lunch, we had the opportunity to hear about some of the cool things happening at the local level during the Local Agency Spotlight:

 Casey Young from Public Health Delta-Menominee talked about a class MSU Extension put together for their U.P. WISEWOMAN participants. This class was in addition to the SNAP-ed classes Extension already offers our WISEWOMAN participants!
 Heather Miller from District Health Department #10 told us about starting a Farmer’s Market in the parking lot of the Health Department in Lake County on clinic days. This provided WISEWOMAN participants with a place to use their Market Fresh coupons. (As an added benefit, W.I.C. clients had a place to use their Project Fresh coupons.) Heather also told us how she worked with Ferris State University in Big Rapids to make their exercise facility available to Mecosta County WISEWOMAN participants.
 Cheryl Griffin, also from DHD #10 discussed her experience with offering the Diabetes Prevention Course to WISEWOMAN and other community participants in Newaygo County. It sounds like it was a great experience for everyone.
 Fran Landwehr from Lenawee County Health Department talked about their experience with a Hispanic Gardening Project. It started out with a small garden plot behind a Hispanic church. This year, they even have a hoop house!
 Kelsey Carriere and Kylie Cherpes from Catherine’s Health Center presented their Ladies Night Out event. A local beauty salon donated space and several stylists donated their time to create a magical, memorable evening for the WISEWOMAN participants.
 Our last Local Agency Spotlight was another interactive session to discuss how different agencies found success distributing Market Fresh coupons to the WISEWOMAN participants. (The participants use the Market Fresh coupons to purchase Michigan grown fruits and vegetables from local farmer’s markets.)

Our final session was a real treat as Megan Raphael from the Courage Project ( helped us find ways to empower ourselves in order to empower the women we serve. You can view Megan's slides at

It was a fantastic day together! We are already looking forward to next year as we explore new ways to encourage and inspire the local WISEWOMAN staff to continue their excellent service to our WISEWOMAN participants!