If you were to wander in on the sessions that bookend our Farm-Based Wellness Program each year, you’d see a scene quite different from weeks in between. Instead of a farm full of people doing hands-on cooking, gardening, and nutrition workshops, you’d find participants filling out survey packets with the help of our Community Health Ambassadors, staff members, and volunteers . Though this may not exactly be getting our hands dirty, the survey process is critical to the continued success of our mission.
Covering everything from past experience with farming to food security to personal health, these surveys allow us at New Haven Farms to get a sense of how well our programming achieves its goals. Though the summer-long program is the beginning of a longer journey, assessing how participants’ health and habits have changed over the course of sixteen weeks gives us valuable data to help see what even a short stint of behavioral change has the potential to do. Our partners at Southern Connecticut State University, namely Dr. Victoria Zigmont, PhD, MPH, and a group of interns from SCSU’s masters program in public health, can then take this data and analyze it to give us valuable information about how we’ve done and what we can continue to improve in future seasons.
This year we also look forward to hosting a community forum to share the results of our research. And, because the best analysis can’t do anything without the right questions, this forum will also serve as an opportunity to solicit input and see what information community members would like to see tracked in the future. By staying in conversation with the New Haven community, we can ensure that we’re still attuned to community interests and that we maintain a true partnership with our community, informing community members of results that they’ve had a key role in developing.