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Take charge of your family's health
The first step can be in your backyard
Savannah civic and business leader Charles H. Morris is revitalizing Trustees Garden to include the CRI Healthy Garden. Charles and his wife Rosalie are generously supporting the CRISP initiative to help everyone in Savannah live happier, healthier lives.

Savannah is simply a beautiful city. The flowers, trees, and plants create a lovely and healthy environment.

The ability to grow a wide variety of plants in Savannah is a central part of Savannah’s story today, yesterday, and tomorrow.

Today, you can use that history to your advantage.

When you go to the grocery store and see all the fresh fruits and vegetables, do you know where and how they were grown? We often take the quality of our food for granted and underestimate how important it is to our family’s health.

Our children are even more sensitive to chemicals on our food than adults are, because their bodies are smaller and still developing. Common pesticides – sometimes called organophosphates – can cause birth defects, asthma, and other damage to young bodies. You can protect your children and yourself from these risks.

When children switch to eating organic foods, the level of pesticides in their bodies can drop to nearly nothing. That is one argument to switch to organically grown food.

Healthy food doesn’t have to be expensive or hard to find. You can start changing what you eat and stay within a budget by being selective at the grocery store or by growing healthy food yourself.

If you raise your own fruits and vegetables, you’ll know exactly what you’re getting on your plate, and you can save money on your grocery bills. Growing food is a great way to bring the family together, and it is also a fun way to move your body to get exercise.

If you don’t have yard space for a traditional garden, consider planting in easy-to-move containers like pots. Another choice is to use wooden pallets to create space-saving, vertical gardens.

In a couple of hours and with a relatively small amount of money, you can create a pallet garden to put along a fence or patio wall that will put your favorite fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables right at your fingertips.

If you want to build a pallet garden (See photo), here is what you need to do:

• Select only clean pallets that are also stamped with HT (heat-treated). Do not use a pallet stamped with MB. That means it was treated with methyl bromide, a toxic chemical. If you don’t see a stamp or the pallet has an odor or looks oily, find a different pallet.

• Use potting soil (preferably organic) rather than planting soil or ground soil.

• Also use some plants that bugs don’t like, because the bugs won’t eat your food if they don’t like some of the plants you use. Bug-fighting plants include marigolds and lavender.

• Use plants that are right for the time of year you are planting. For example, peppers, eggplant, okra, and cucumbers can withstand summer heat, but lettuce needs the cooler temperatures of spring.

• If you want to learn more about making a pallet garden, you can find more information online at: If you have other questions, call CRI at (912) 443-3264 or email

Our history is a guide to our future.

Agriculture is also the oldest and largest industry in Georgia. Savannah’s Trustees’ Garden was America’s very first agricultural experiment station. In 1734, the Trustees’ Garden was established to conduct research on possible agricultural exports such as silk and wine.

Today, the Canyon Ranch Institute Savannah Partnership (CRISP) is building on that history. We invite you to volunteer to help with this work and learn some valuable new gardening skills at the same time.

The first 50 people to attend organizational meetings and volunteer to help on Monday, May 19, at 9 a.m., noon, and 6 .p.m. at the Charles H. Morris Center at Trustees’ Garden on the corner of Broad Street and Bay Street will receive a complimentary copy of Mel’s Tips for Healthy Living by Mel Zuckerman, founder of Canyon Ranch Institute.

Come join us. You will learn how to grow healthy food for you and your family, and you will get some free exercise in a location that reflects the incredible beauty of Savannah today and the history of Savannah.

By helping your friends and neighbors create this community garden, you can help write the future of Savannah – a future that should be focused on health, happiness, and well-being. We look forward to seeing you all Monday, May 19, at the Charles H. Morris Center at Trustees’ Garden.