Real Life, Real Passion Episode 2: Carol Bauer’s Garden of Health

Real Life, Real Passion

Welcome to the second episode of the Real Life, Real Passion podcast. Today our guest is Carol Bauer, she is the founder of the non-profit organization the Garden of Health. Her organization works with food pantries and low income senior housing authorities to provide fresh produce and food free from one or more of the top eight allergens to those in need. In our conversation she shares the importance of eating healthy and her mission to help everyone find healthy food that they can eat.


Carol married her high school sweet heart and they’ve been together for 25 years. She been a stay at home Mom for Carol Bauer_Garden of Healthtwenty-two years, she has four children, one son and three girls, ranging in age from 22 to 16. She became a grandmother for the first-time last year. She loves being a grandmother.

She also loves gardening and being outside. Her non-profit organization is the Garden of Health, which was started in February of 2015.  They obtain special dietary foods: foods that are gluten free, heart healthy, diabetic friendly, are free of one or more of the top eight allergens, and fresh produce and distribute it to low income individuals through the food pantries and low income senior housing authorities.

Special dietary foods are not often donated at all because they tend to be more expensive, even three times the amount that regular foods are. Because they are more expensive they aren’t donated on a regular basis.


“For me, it’s my family.”

Her husband and her kids and spending time with them, and enjoying what life provides is what brings joy. Being able to enjoy nature, and adventure, kayaking, paddle boarding… being outdoors with her family and enjoying experiences together is what really pushes her.

Motivational Quote

“Your wealth should not dictate your health” – Carol Bauer


Success is being able to set goals and move forward towards those goals. Everyday being able to do something that moves forward toward those goals, versus staying in place or going backwards.

“Success to me is being able to move forward in life.”

Whether it’s for your health, or family, or if you have a goal to run a marathon, it’s breaking down the steps, and knowing what you have to do each day to get yourself to that goal.

Success is about the journey and not the destination. So many people get to that destination, and then get depressed and stop living because they met their goal and now they don’t know what to do, and they didn’t enjoy the journey along the way.

It’s always having new goals, it’s always enjoying the journey to that goal, and then asking now what? “I was put on this Earth for a reason and it wasn’t to sit still”.


Richard Branson and Tony Robbins are successful people that come to Carol’s mind.

Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin brand empire. He now has about 300 companies under that brand. He dropped out of high school at the age of 16, and he was also dyslexic. So, to be a high school drop out and be able to become the face and name of the Virgin brand is inspirational.

Tony Robbins grew up very poor, his father left when he was very young and his mother was an alcoholic, so he had to take care of her. Again, we have an example where Tony Robbins is this huge person now that travels all around the world, does all sorts of conferences, and business expos, and is a motivational speaker. Yet when he was young, they were without food. He went from nothing to being a billionaire, and he gives back.

As a child, somebody had come to Tony’s house with a thanksgiving meal, which his father refused. The father was finally convinced to take the meal, but after that his father left. That experience was enough to motivate Tony so that every year after that experience, he worked to be able to donate a meal to somebody else. The next time it was two, and it just kept increasing.

Story Behind Garden of Health

For years Carol suffered with chronic pain – ten and a half years of chronic pain. She was diagnosed with Myofascial Pain Syndrome. Other family members and friends were suffering with other health issues and one of her friends had gone to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to be a health coach, and convinced Carol that she should go. In doing so, Carol was able to completely eliminate her chronic pain, she was able to help with family members and friends find a diagnoses of celiac and food allergies, and start managing heart disease and get their weight under control.

Initially it was all about helping family members and friends. When she was initially diagnosed, she volunteered a lot at her local food pantry, it was then that she realized there was very little if anything available that she could or would want to eat.

She has grown a garden for 25 years, so it is a huge part of her life. It’s an easy skill to learn, and a great way to be able to help yourself. So, after talking to her food pantry for a little while, she decided to start her non-profit. She helps the food pantries and works with the existing system, so that the clients don’t have to go someplace else to get what they need. They can just go where they would normally go and get what they need.


Just by changing her diet, Carol was able to make her chronic pain go away.

She always thought that she ate a pretty good healthy diet. She had a garden, and had fruits and vegetables in her home and on her table year-round, but they still ate some of the junk. And it was that junk, that was causing the issues for her and pretty much everybody she helps. It’s really getting off the junk food, and eating real food.

Most people think of Celiac disease as a gastrointestinal disease, but there are a lot of Celiacs that do not present with gastrointestinal symptoms. Their symptoms are brain fog, not being able to think correctly, and other neurological issues that Neurologists can’t explain. But “when they go to a gluten free diet, it all disappears”.

Dr. Daniel Amen worked with the NFL doing concussion research. He uses food and nutritional supplements before he goes to a pharmaceutical prescription.  In a study of 100 ex-NFL players, through nutrition and supplements, and some exercise programs, they saw a dramatic decrease in the symptoms of dementia in these NFL players who had suffered major concussions during their careers.

Favorite Part of Running Garden of Health

“My favorite part is seeing the appreciation of the people”.

One of the senior centers that Carol drops off at has a big living room lobby that she goes into when she drops off fresh produce, and the community room is just off to the side. She feels like the Momma duck, because as she walks into the community room, she has five or six “ducklings” following her to see what she brought.

Lessons Learned

“The biggest thing I have learned is how much people don’t know.” She had knowledge, and she found that she would often start at a place where people couldn’t understand what she was saying because they didn’t have the knowledge behind it. She learned that when she is speaking, she needs to start at the beginning instead of at the place where she is with her knowledge.

“There is no question that is a dumb question because I didn’t know what you are going to ask when I started… but I don’t know what you don’t know if you don’t ask me the question.”


Carol doesn’t need external motivation because what she does with her non-profit is her passion. She is doing what she loves, and provides food so that everyone who goes into a food pantry has the opportunity to get the food that they need. Nobody has to walk out empty handed because they can’t find any food that they can eat – and that won’t make them sick.

Best Advice for Being on a Restricted Diet

“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle.” We don’t refer to the regular way that we eat as a diet, so when we are changing how we eat, and we refer to it as a diet, we get in a mindset of deprivation.  That we are depriving ourselves of something. Once we are in that mindset, we won’t succeed. Because we don’t want to deprive ourselves of things.

Don’t refer to it as a diet. Get that out of your head, and instead refer to it as a lifestyle. Because it is a lifestyle.

Stumbling Blocks

The greatest stumbling block for Carol is making her non-profit visible to people – getting the word out there about what she does. Having time to make the phone calls and finding someone to actually listen are the hardest part. But, once she talks to people, they love what Garden of Health does.

Money is another issue. She works with eight food panties and five low income senior housing authorities, and has a waiting list of potential clients, but she doesn’t have the money to support more growth. She does actively seek ways to bring more in by applying for grants and accepting donations, but there is more need than available resources.

Real Life Example

GardenThere is a grandmother who is raising her two grandchildren, and they have been part of the gardening program since the first year. The grandchildren actively grow. The first year they grew, there was vandalism in the garden and by the end of the season, all of their plants had been ripped out, which was heartbreaking. But they came back again. And the grandmother has now learned to can and not only cans what they grow but if the food pantry gets an overabundance of something, then they will call her and she will can it as well. When you ask her what has gotten her to that point, she’ll say, “I need to feed my family… and I have this opportunity to have this fresh produce, to be able to use and can, and have for the winter, so why wouldn’t I take advantage of it?”

Tools to Live a Healthier Lifestyle

Keep a food diary. It has been shown that people who keep a food diary are more likely to stay with their lifestyle change, and are also more likely to lose more weight.

Change your mindset. “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle”. If you don’t change the mindset, you’ll never succeed because you’ll always look at it as depriving yourself of something.

Pay attention to your body. Start realizing and noticing the change in your body and how you feel. Once you have that shift and see how good you are feeling, you won’t feel deprived when you are in a situation when there are a bunch of foods you don’t eat anymore. You can look at the food and make the connection between the food and how it made you feel (brain fog, pain, joint issues…) and you won’t want that food anymore because you know how it made you feel and can compare to how you feel without it.

For Gardening:

What’s Next

Carol is looking forward to starting a podcast. She would love to get the stories of those who use the food pantries out there… so we can start a conversation, and educate the public as to who is really using the food pantries.

There may be some people that follow the stereotypical person who uses a food pantry, but most are not that way. For example, one woman that came to the food pantry recently is a mom of five, the house is in foreclosure, their youngest is two and has been sick his entire life. There are multiple doctor’s appointments, specialist appointments, and the medical bills keep adding up. Then the husband then was laid off. She came to the food pantry for the very first time, but was worried because at a recent doctor appointment the doctor had suggested going gluten free to see if that would help her two-year-old. Because that food pantry was one that Carol supports, they were able to supply her with the gluten free food that her family needed.

Sharing stories like these, Carol hopes to help people realize that it may be someone living just a few houses from you that is using a food pantry. The stereotype is not necessarily the truth about who needs and uses a food pantry.

Carol’s big goal for her non-profit is to become a national organization, so that anyone going into a food pantry can find food that they can eat, and can find fresh produce. Ultimately, her goal is to help people eat healthy.

Find out more about Carol and the Garden of Health:

Garden of Health   Facebook   Twitter   Instagram


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Krista Palo

I'm Krista, the owner and creator of Evolve. I have a masters degree in Business Administration and I am passionate about development, motivation, and change. I love stories in all of their forms, and believe in continuous learning and the power of positivity.

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3 thoughts on “Real Life, Real Passion Episode 2: Carol Bauer’s Garden of Health

    • What I found fascinating was how she was able to get rid of chronic pain with diet! I know I struggle with eating the junk still. I wonder how much of my pain is can be attributed to diet? Carol definitely gave me inspiration to start eating better, and to put in a garden! Wish me luck.