The St. Joe’s farm offers wholesome consuming and training | Native information

Every morning when the doctors arrive for their shift at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac, the walkway from the parking lot leads through the farm, which is just developing.

It’s called Farm at St. Joe’s. The plan is to build a healthy community by empowering people through food, education, and relationships.

“I usually go around the farm in the morning to see how things are going or weed. Most of the time I spend most of my mornings working and talking to the doctors passing by, ”says Katelyn Smoger, farm program manager.

“They want to know what is growing, they want to know what our program options are. This is how they really start the day. If they come out and see something is different, they will reset to go home. It’s a reflective space to relieve the stress of the day and it’s a beautiful healing space to walk through, ”said Smoger.

The St. Joe’s Oakland farm is an extension of the successful Saint Joseph Mercy Health System farm in St. Joe’s Ann Arbor, which donated more than 6,300 pounds of products to 3,600 healthcare providers and 1,300 patients in 2020. In addition, Ann Arbor Farm distributed 11,500 boxes of Michigan produce to community members, including 83 food insecure families.

Similar to Ann Arbor, the Farm at St. Joe’s Oakland offers access to a variety of courses and programs, such as the Collaborative Farm Share Program. The Farm Share is a 20 week program that brings together food from local farms to create a diverse weekly box of produce that is then distributed to members. Memberships can be purchased and are free for food insecure members of the community.

The Farm at St. Joe’s, located where the North Tower once stood, will work with three local farms to collect produce for the program. From July 8th through November 18th, members will have boxes of products available to collect once a week.

“If you become a member, it means you will get lots of tomatoes when we have a great tomato year. You’re also buying in some of that inherent risk to farming – if we have a bad potato year, you may not get a lot of potatoes, ”said Amanda Sweetman, director of agriculture and healthy living at Trinity Health Michigan.

Since the farm in St. Joe’s is so small – just over an acre – they are investing in the local food economy.

“In Ann Arbor we have 13 partner farms, here we currently have three. We bring food from these farms, then collect it and give it to our members, ”said Sweetman.

In addition to promoting healthier diets, the program also serves as the economic engine for local agriculture as it generated more than $ 150,000 for farms in the Ann Arbor area in 2020.

“It is not intended to meet all of your dining needs. It’s a way of saying, “Hey, you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes, here at St. Joe’s we really believe we can help you deal with it,” Sweetman said. “Medicines are an option, but we also believe that food is medicine, so here is a full bag of spinach or a freshly picked bunch of radishes or cherry tomatoes straight from the farm. Let’s talk about your diet. ”

She said it educates providers too. In fact, some of them signed up for the farm share program.

“It is starting to help providers think about what happens in their patients’ lives when they are out of the office. Why do you keep coming back to me and how can we help you change your eating habits, ”said Smoger. “Getting vendors to think about it will make a big difference.”

They were expecting a group of volunteers from Pontiacs United Wholesale Mortgage on Tuesday to help build another large vegetable patch. Volunteers are wanted and can register on their website.

Currently, they have started with plants like kale, radish, cucumber, and tomato. Carrots and beets begin to sprout.

Part of the plan is for vendors to bring baskets of food to their clinics in the hospital and distribute them to patients.

Although it’s early in the process, they are also planning a cut flower garden.

“We will have cutting times like office hours so that we can cut bouquets. So when your coworker is having a bad day or your family member is here and you want to cut flowers to bring and cheer them up, ”Sweetman said.

At some point they will also build a small pavilion with a view of the grounds.

They will also plant a Please Touch Garden along the sidewalk.

If a doctor should stop and pull a ripe tomato off the vine, all is well.

“I think the important part of the hospital perspective is not just a topic of conversation for doctors. This is a big investment for the hospital on its premises, its money, to ensure and introduce the idea that healthy eating can improve your life, ”said Bobby Maldonado, spokesman for St. Joe. “We’re not just here to treat a broken arm or a heart attack or stroke – we can help you get well.”

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