Washington man strives to promote healthy eating

Published 7:32 pm Friday, September 1, 2017

Spend a day with Bill Booth, and one would find him riding in fields around town on his John Deere tractor, plowing the way for community gardens and consuming lots and lots of vegetables.

Booth, the healthy eating outreach coordinator at Beaufort County Community College, started an initiative to help members of the community live healthier lives through the creation and assistance of community gardens.

“You look better, you live better, you think better and you grow better,” Booth said of healthy eating.

Booth spends his days helping to set up community gardens throughout the county. He said in the past, he has worked with BCCC, the city of Washington and various organizations, such as the Boys & Girls Club, as well as local churches to cultivate the gardens. Once the gardens are created, it provides the local residents with healthy options for cheap, according to Booth.

Booth said he started with eight community gardens around the area, including gardens in Pantego, Blounts Creek and at Acre Station in Pinetown. He’s in the process of developing fall gardens in new locations, as well. He has recently had multiple churches come to him and ask for assistance in creating gardens, and two churches are set to make others in the upcoming fall months.

“They have a need for fresh vegetables that they can’t afford. … They’ve begun to realize the importance of healthy eating. They live healthier lives. I always say it isn’t how long you live, it’s the quality of life you live,” Booth said.

Booth said he took a gardening class at BCCC about three years ago, and his passion for healthy living sparked almost immediately. He said he realized the negative effects poor eating habits had on the body, and it forced those suffering from disease to live their lives dependent on medications. To him, that seemed problematic.

“A lot of diseases people have are due to our diets. By eating and adding more vegetables, it decreases the chances of having diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and other related diseases,” Booth said. “After you start eating it, it can reduce some of those problems that come from high-sodium, high-sweet, high-fat foods.”

Booth said he is a living example of the benefits of healthy eating, as he used to suffer from high cholesterol, and with a few diet changes, he’s reversed it.

“I used to have high cholesterol and now I take no medication at all,” Booth said. “Now, it’s just good living.”

On most days, Booth said he travels to different institutions around the county to give presentations on how to start growing and harvesting vegetables. This fall, he will give a presentation at BCCC about growing a garden in a bucket. He said it’s a cheap, easy way for community members to harvest their own produce.

“You can have one tomato plant and put it in a 5-gallon bucket, and you can have more tomatoes than you can eat in an entire year. You’ll have an abundance of tomatoes,” Booth said. “It doesn’t even cost a lot. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist, either.”

The 65-year-old former retiree is now a full-time employee once again. He said the opportunity to spread his passion throughout the community and help people become healthier has been an incredible experience.

“Money couldn’t replace what I’m doing. It’s so simple to help people live better lives,” Booth said.