Thursday, October 19, 2017

2 More Saturdays!

2 more markets to go!

Last Saturday, we were thrilled to have such beautiful weather!  We hope this weekend will bring more of the same.

There is still so much to see and buy, even as we approach the end.  We also now accept credit, debit, and EBT cards at the market booth.


While some of our vendors have wrapped up for the season, there are many still selling - with lots of fresh, delicious, and beautiful produce and other items.  The vendors you may find at the market for the remainder of the season are:
In other exciting news, some of our vendors will be working to provide drop points in Indiana during the off-season.  

If you'd like to get the most up-to-date information on these dates and locations, be sure to follow us on Facebook and subscribe to our e-newsletter by e-mailing indianafarmmarket@gmail.com.  


See you at the market!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

3 More Markets in 2017!

You still have 3 more chances to shop the Farmers' Market!

While Homecoming is always a slow day for us, there were still a couple big highlights from last Saturday.

First, Mahoning Creek Farm grilled up samples of their delicious, locally-raised hot dogs.  If you haven't tried them, you're really missing out - They're not your average hot dogs!

Also, as of last week, raw milk from Lone Oak Farm is now available at the market!

The end of the season may be approaching, but this is just some of what you can still find on Saturday morning...

  • Beets
  • Apples
  • Kohlrabi
  • Eggplant
  • Radishes
  • Winter squash - acorn, butternut, spaghetti, etc.
  • Carrots
  • Cookies, cinnamon rolls, and other baked treats
  • Fresh cut flowers
  • Garlic
  • Greens
  • Mushrooms
  • Herbs
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Lip balm
  • Onions
  • Beans
  • Peas
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkins
  • ...and more!!

On average, we still have a dozen vendors selling on Saturday mornings.

Remember, we are now accepting credit, debit, and SNAP/EBT cards at the Market Booth every Saturday!


See you at the market!

Want our weekly blog posts sent straight to your inbox?  E-mail indianafarmmarket@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Week of October 4 & 7

This is a week of big thanks!  We love our community and all that you do to help make  our market great! 

First, thank you so much to all who came out and supported our Harvest for the Hungry event last Saturday.  Despite a chilly, cloudy morning, we collected over 60 pounds of fresh, local produce for the Zion Lutheran Food Pantry.  These donations were greatly appreciated and will be distributed to local families and individuals in need.

I'd also like to express our gratitude for all of the community groups and individuals who have filled our special tents this season.  As things begin to wind down for the year, we will no longer have special activities in these tents.  However, they add so much to the market.  This year, we were fortunate to have 9 local artisans, 12 community groups, 8 kids' booths, 2 chef demonstrations, and 5 local musicians at our market!  Thank you so much to all who shared their time and talents with us!


Please note that tomorrow, October 4th, is our FINAL Wednesday market of the season.  Be sure to stop by Wayne Avenue one more time tomorrow afternoon between 3:00 and 5:30 p.m.

Now...just because we're reflecting on the season does not mean it is over yet - you still have 4 Saturdays left to shop your favorite local goodies - think warm, gooey cinnamon rolls, crisp apples, festive pumpkins, fresh-baked bread, and much, much more!

Remember, we are now accepting credit, debit, and SNAP/EBT cards at the Market Booth every Saturday!


See you at the market!

Want our weekly blog posts sent straight to your inbox?  E-mail indianafarmmarket@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Harvest for the Hungry is Saturday!

Happy Fall everyone!  As the weather cools (maybe?), colors turn, and the season continues on, there is still plenty to enjoy at the market.  While it may be sad to say goodbye to the warmth, and fresh bounty of summertime, autumn brings crisp air and many other market favorites to enjoy.  Think apples, winter squash, pumpkins, and much more on the way.  And who doesn't love a freshly baked loaf of bread or a gooey cinnamon roll on a cool day?

We still have TWO Wednesday markets remaining (correction from last week).  Our final Wednesday market of the year is October 4th.  Our Saturday markets will continue through the month of October.

As mentioned in one of our previous posts, September is recognized as Hunger Action Month.  Started by Feeding America, this is a month where people all over America stand together to fight hunger.  It is a month to spread the word and take action on the hunger crisis, and dedicate ourselves to a solution.


Earlier this month, we partnered with the Center for Community Growth to introduce our new Market Card Swipe Booth, where customers can use SNAP/EBT cards, in addition to credit and debit cards, to shop the market.  For the remainder of the season we will also offer a Foodbucks incentive for SNAP shoppers, essentially doubling your money (up to $5 per customer).  We hope this new program will help make fresh, local foods available to even more individuals and families in our community.

This weekend, we hold our Harvest for the Hungry event.

At the Saturday market, you can purchase additional produce or other food items to donate at the Market Booth.  All donations will be delivered to the Food Pantry at Zion Lutheran Church following the market.

Items that are particularly helpful to the Food Pantry are foods that will store well, including apples, potatoes, winter squash, root vegetables, onions, cabbage, kale, and collard greens.  However, all donations are welcome and appreciated!

In addition to helping fight hunger right here in our local community, you can enjoy a full lineup of special tents, including...

Food samples by IUP Dietetics Interns, in partnership with IRMC's Institute for Healthy Living.  Planned recipes include pumpkin parfait and corn & vegetable chowder - Yum!

Information about SNAP benefits, as well as nutrition tips and recipes, from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Kids activities with students from IUP's Family and Consumer Science Education program.

Live music by Dan Stonerook, playing a unique blend of classic rock, country, and Americana - a market favorite!

We hope you will bring the whole family for what is sure to be an amazing morning to have fun and give back to our neighbors in need!


See you at the market!

Want our weekly blog posts send straight to your inbox?  E-mail indianafarmmarket@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Week of September 20 & 23

Fall is nearly here, but the market is still going strong!  Come get the freshest in local produce, baked goods, meats, eggs, and all of your other favorites before it's too late!

The last day of our Wednesday market will be next week, September 27th.  Our Saturday market will continue through the month of October.

This week, we have even more exciting news for our SNAP/EBT customers!  For every SNAP dollar you use, we will give you an additional dollar in Foodbucks, up to a $5 match.  This means that if you swipe your EBT card for $5 in tokens, you will actually have $10 to spend at the market!  Huge thanks to our partners at the Center for Community Growth for funding the Foodbucks incentive!

Be sure to visit the Artisan Tent Saturday to shop tie dye, jewelry, and seasonal pillows by Jennifer Braughler.


Of course, please also remember to...

SAVE THE DATE

Harvest for the Hungry
Saturday, September 30th 

On this day, customers can purchase extra produce and donate it at the Market Booth.  Donations will be delivered to the food bank at Zion Lutheran Church.  Help us fight hunger in our community!

VOLUNTEERS are needed for this event!  Please e-mail indianafarmmarket@gmail.com if you can help.  Assistance is needed with setup, cleanup, and staffing the booth.  You can volunteer 1 hour or all morning!


See you at the market!

Want our weekly blog posts send straight to your inbox?  E-mail indianafarmmarket@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Week of September 13 & 16

There is a whole lot going on at the market this week (and all month), so I'm going to get right to it!

We had an exciting day last Saturday with the launch of our new Market booth accepting credit, debit, and SNAP/EBT.  We are excited to make shopping easier for our customers and to help increase access to fresh, local foods!  Thank you to our friends at the Center for Community Growth for being our partners in this effort and providing volunteers to staff the booth!  Read on for more details.


This week, there is more excitement on the way with a FULL lineup of special tents!  Bring the whole family - there will be something for everyone!

First, we welcome back Zepchild Barefoot Sandals to the Artisan Booth.  Stop by to shop handmade barefoot sandals, jewelry, and more!

The Community Tent features another chef demonstration from Josh Truitt of CH Fields Craft Kitchen (inside the Hilton Garden Inn).  CH Fields "believes in real food, grown and harvested by the good folks in our community who take care of their land for future generations."  Josh is a market favorite and is always cooking up something new and delicious!

Our Kids' Tent this week will be filled with students from IUP's Family and Consumer Sciences Program and some fun children's activities.

Finally, we welcome a new musician to the market!  Adam Fitz plays and sings soulful songs.  Hailing from Chicago, Fitz recently brought his rootsy originals and uniquely spun covers (known and unknown) to the Laurel Highlands of Western PA.  Today, Fitz is a father of two and works in a local school.  His life experiences have merged with the years on stage to produce an engaging performance filled with authenticity, depth, and an energetic, passionate performance.

Finally, S&T Bank will join us again to promote and sell tickets for The Best Slice of Indiana, a fundraiser benefiting the ICCAP Power Pack Program.


Whew, that's a lot of action for one Saturday!  We also hope you will...

SAVE THE DATE

Harvest for the Hungry
Saturday, September 30th 

On this day, customers can purchase extra produce and donate it at the Market Booth.  Donations will be delivered to the food bank at Zion Lutheran Church.  Help us fight hunger in our community!

VOLUNTEERS are needed for this event!  Please e-mail indianafarmmarket@gmail.com if you can help.  Assistance is needed with setup, cleanup, and staffing the booth.  You can volunteer 1 hour or all morning!

Finally, if you are as excited as we are about being able to use credit, debit, and EBT cards at the market, here is what you need to know:
  • Cards will be accepted at Saturday morning markets ONLY.
  • Participating vendors will post a sign in their booths stating that they accept market tokens.
  • When you arrive, visit the Market Information booth.  A volunteer will swipe your card and give you tokens.  
  • You can choose how much market money you want.  Credit/debit tokens are $1 each; SNAP tokens are $0.50 each.  
  • Credit/debit transactions include a small transaction fee to help us cover the cost of this service.  There are no fees for SNAP transactions
  • Spend your tokens like cash with participating vendors.  Note: Change cannot be given for purchases made with SNAP tokens.
  • Tokens do not expire.  If you do not spend your market money, you can use it next week, next month, or even next season!
While we hope that many shoppers will take advantage of this system, please remember that cash (especially in small bills) is still the preferred payment method for many of our market vendors!


See you at the market!

We are still scheduling for our special tents through the end of September.  If you are an artist, musician, or are involved with a community organization or kids' group, e-mail us at indianafarmmarket@gmail.com if you'd like to participate!

Want our weekly blog posts send straight to your inbox?  E-mail indianafarmmarket@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Now Accepting Credit, Debit, and SNAP/EBT!

BIG NEWS!!  This Saturday, we will begin accepting credit, debit, and SNAP/EBT cards at our Saturday markets!  This is such an exciting time for the market, and we are looking forward to make shopping easier for our customers while helping increase access to fresh, local foods!

Here is what you need to know about using cards at the Market:
  • Cards will be accepted at Saturday morning markets ONLY.
  • Participating vendors will post a sign in their booths stating that they accept market tokens.
  • When you arrive, visit the Market Information booth.  A volunteer will swipe your card and give you tokens.  
  • You can choose how much market money you want.  Credit/debit tokens are $1 each; SNAP tokens are $0.50 each.
  • Spend your tokens like cash with participating vendors.  Note: Change cannot be given for purchases made with SNAP tokens.
  • Tokens do not expire.  If you do not spend your market money, you can use it next week, next month, or even next season!
While we hope that many shoppers will take advantage of this system, please remember that cash (especially in small bills) is still the preferred payment method for many of our market vendors!

This program is made possible by a partnership with the Center for Community Growth.  The Center actively engages people of diverse philosophies, faiths, and backgrounds to work together to form a more fair, equitable, and sustainable community.

The Market has also received support from Fresh Access.  Thank you!

This Saturday, we welcome Ruth Barkey to the Artisan Tent.  She creates figurines and other items from Sculpey clay.  Many of her newest pieces have a harvest or Halloween theme, so be sure to check them out!


We also welcome S&T Bank to the market.  For the next 3 weeks, they will be selling tickets to The Best Slice of Indiana, a fundraiser benefiting the ICCAP Power Pack Program.

Finally, when you finish shopping the Market Saturday, be sure to stop by the Northern Applachian Folk Festival,  happening in downtown Indiana all weekend!

See you at the market!



We are still scheduling for our special tents through the end of September.  If you are an artist, musician, or are involved with a community organization or kids' group, e-mail us at indianafarmmarket@gmail.com if you'd like to participate!

Want our weekly blog posts send straight to your inbox?  E-mail indianafarmmarket@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Week of August 30 & September 2

Welcome back IUP!!  Can you believe September is already here?  Don't worry, there is still plenty of time to enjoy fresh, local produce and everything else that the market has to offer.

If you are new to Indiana or returning after a summer away, please stop by to see us.  There is always something new to discover!

Thank you to Zepchild Barefoot Sandals and the Center for Community Growth for sharing their time with us last week.

The Market is OPEN during fair week during our regular hours.

This Saturday, we welcome Courtney Scanlan-Lewis to the Artisan Tent.  She specializes in homemade wooden items, including many children's items.

Did you know...
September is Local Foods Month?!

Here are some great suggestions for supporting local foods from the Mother Nature Network:

  • Pick your own (e.g. apples, pumpkins)
  • Go gleaning
  • Plant some fall crops
  • Keep buying from your farmers' market
  • Have dinner on a farm
  • Don't forget the wine and beer!  Support local wineries and breweries
More suggestions for celebrating local foods this month on our Facebook page.


Finally...BIG NEWS about changes coming to the market

We will soon be accepting SNAP/EBT and credit and debit cards at our Saturday morning market!
We will keep you updated on start dates and details of this program in the near future!

Remember to follow us on Facebook for the most up-to-date market information.

See you at the market!



We are still scheduling for our special tents through the end of September.  If you are an artist, musician, or are involved with a community organization or kids' group, e-mail us at indianafarmmarket@gmail.com if you'd like to participate!

Want our weekly blog posts send straight to your inbox?  E-mail indianafarmmarket@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Week of August 23 & 26

Thanks to all who came out for Pollinator Day!  We had beautiful weather, a market FULL of vendors, and lots of happy shoppers.

Special thanks to the Indiana County Master Gardeners and Indiana PA Honey Bee for sharing their knowledge and resources about protecting and supporting our pollinator friends!


This Saturday, we welcome back Zepchild Barefoot Sandals to the Artisan Tent.  Come by to shop handmade jewelry, barefoot sandals and more.

Be sure to also stop in and chat with folks from the Center for Community Growth in - you guessed it - the Community Tent.  The Center works to lead individuals and organizations in and around Indiana County advancing social, racial, LGBTQIA, economic, and environmental justice.

Remember to follow us on Facebook for the most up-to-date market information.

See you at the market!


We are still scheduling for our special tents through the end of September.  If you are an artist, musician, or are involved with a community organization or kids' group, e-mail us at indianafarmmarket@gmail.com if you'd like to participate!

Want our weekly blog posts send straight to your inbox?  E-mail indianafarmmarket@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Pollinator Day is Here!

Can you believe we are already halfway through the market season?!  It has been a great first half, but the best is yet to come!

We are looking forward to Pollinator Day this Saturday as well as a big announcement coming soon!

This week, we celebrate the little critters that make so many of our favorite market foods possible - Pollinators!  Join us at the market this Saturday as we learn more about butterflies, bees, and how to support their habitats and populations.

Visit the Community Tent to speak with Master Gardeners about pollinator-friendly gardening, andIndiana PA Honey Bee.  There will even be live observation hives to check out!  Finally, bring the kids by the Market Information booth for fun facts and storytime.
be sure to stop by the Artisan Tent to learn all about bees and beekeeping with

Be sure to follow our Facebook page for the most up-to-date information about our events and other market happenings.  Big changes are on the way!

See you at the market!


We are still scheduling for our special tents through the end of September.  If you are an artist, musician, or are involved with a community organization or kids' group, e-mail us at indianafarmmarket@gmail.com if you'd like to participate!

Want our weekly blog posts send straight to your inbox?  E-mail indianafarmmarket@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Week of August 9 & 12

Don't let the cool weather of this past week fool you - we are in the height of the summer growing season!  We are seeing great quantity and variety of summer favorites like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, squash, melons, and more.  There is always something new to discover!

We are taking a little break with our special tents this week but will be back in action next week for Pollinator Day!  Read on for more details on this event.

This week also brings the final days to fill out our Market Survey.  Thank you to those who have already given your feedback.  If you haven't had a chance to fill one out yet, please do.  It is short and sweet, but a couple minutes of  your time make a huge difference for us!  The online survey closes at 8:00 p.m. this Friday, August 11th.


Save the Date!

Pollinator Day - Saturday, August 19th from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

Join us as we celebrate the little critters that help make so many of our favorite foods possible - Pollinators!!

We are excited to have the Indiana County Master Gardeners and Indiana PA Honey Bee as our featured guests.


See you at the Market!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Market Week of August 2 & 5

Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  
Customer Appreciation Day was so much fun, the sun was shining, and we had a great turnout!  Huge thanks to all who participated, and most of all to you - our customers - we wouldn't be here without you!

In addition to 16 of your favorite local vendors, we were also excited to have artist Tyler Gaston, chef Josh Truitt of CH Fields Craft Kitchen, face painting by players of the Indiana Women's Flag Football League, and live music by Danny Haynes!

Our generous vendors also gave so much fresh produce, canned goods, baked goods, meats, and lip balm that we were able to give away three amazing baskets in our drawing.  Congratulations to the lucky winners!

Special thanks to our vendors who offered special promotions or sampling in their own booths, including 3 Ponds Farm, Mahoning Creek Farm, Mother Earth Farm, Uncle Henry's Garden, and Yarnick's Farm.


This week will be a little more low-key, but there is still oh so much fresh produce - we are really getting into the height of the season.

Saturday, we welcome Fair Districts PA to the Community Tent.  They are a nonpartisan, citizen-led statewide coalition working to create a process for redistricting that is transparent, impartial, and fair.  Stop by to see what they're working on.

This week, we also continue our Market Survey.  We want to make our market the best we can, and you can help by sharing your feedback and ideas!  The survey is available online or in person at this Saturday's market in the Market Information Booth.

Finally, we welcome yet another new vendor to the market - Bake & Brew.  She will be offering gluten-free and vegan baked goods along with locally roasted cold brew coffee and sweet tea.

Now...on to our product of the week - ZUCCHINI  
Zucchini is abundant this time of year, and I'm sure any farmer can share creative ways to use it.  But did you know these...

Fun Facts:
  • A zucchini has more potassium than a banana
  • One zucchini has just 25 calories
  • Zucchini are a member of the gourd family
  • Zucchini were first brought to the U.S. in the 1920s by the Italians
  • The most flavorful zucchinis are small- to medium-sized
  • The world's largest zucchini on record was 69 1/2 inches long and weighed 65 pounds!
mobile-cuisine.com
topfoodfacts.com

If you are looking for a new, simple way to enjoy these summer squash, try this recipe for a zucchini pasta salad.  You can find the squash, herbs, and garlic at the market!

I also have a couple bonus recipes to share, courtesy of a couple of our vendors - Basil Blueberry Mojitos (shared by Longview Farm) and Lamb in Grape Leaves (shared by the Spades).  Enjoy!



Before I leave you, please keep in mind as the season goes on:

Due to health and safety regulations, no animals are permitted on the market premises with the exception of service animals.  
We appreciate your help in keeping the market clean and safe for everyone.  

Many of us at the market are dog lovers, too, but we kindly ask that you leave your furry friends at home.  Thanks!


See you at the market!

We are still scheduling for our special tents through the end of September.  If you are an artist, musician, or are involved with a community organization or kids' group, e-mail us at indianafarmmarket@gmail.com if you'd like to participate!

Want our weekly blog posts sent straight to your inbox?  E-mail indianafarmmarket@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Customer Appreciation Day July 29th!

We love our customers (that's you)!!  

Without shoppers who visit us weekly throughout the season and support our local farmers and producers, we wouldn't have a market.  That's why each year we set aside one special Saturday to celebrate YOU!

Customer Appreciation Day is a time to celebrate our market and the people who help to make it what it is.  Bring the whole family and enjoy a fun-filled morning!

The big day is finally here, and it will be everything you've come to expect, including:

Some of our vendors will join in the spirit of the day with special promotions and sampling in their booths, as well.  Those planned so far are:
  • Free bulb of garlic with a purchase of $10 or more - 3 Ponds Farm
  • "Round down" sale - Mahoning Creek Farm
  • Samples of farm-made refrigerator pickles - Mother Earth Farm

Finally, be sure to stop by the Market Information booth for a free chance to win a basket of market products!  While you're there, please fill out our Customer Survey and earn a 2nd entry into the drawing.

This day is really all about you, and you are what makes our market great!  Thank you for your support over the years.  We wouldn't be here without you!

Remember, our Wednesday market is also open this week, and we have been seeing more vendors join us on Wednesday over the past few weeks.  Stop by and see what's new!

Our featured product of the week is so tasty, versatile, and downright beautiful - the TOMATO

Fun Facts:
  • Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, and antioxidant that is good for the heart and helps protect against some cancers.  They are also packed with vitamins A and C and potassium (www.sciencekids.co.nz)
  • Cooked tomatoes are actually better for you than raw ones, as more beneficial chemicals are released (www.sciencekids.co.nz)
  • Tomatoes are thought to have originated in Peru and were named by the Aztec (www.tomatodirt.com)
  • According to the USDA, there are now 25,000 varieties of tomatoes.  Other sources cap the number of types at 10,000 (either way, that's a lot!) (www.tomatodirt.com)
  • As of 2013, the heaviest tomato (according to Guiness World Records) weighed 7 pounds, 12 ounces and was grown in Edmond, Oklahoma in 1986.  The grower sliced the tomato to make sandwiches for 21 family members (www.tomatodirt.com)
You can find many varieties at our market.  Seeing as more than 90% of home gardeners grow tomatoes, it is no surprise that so many of our vendors grow these juicy summer treats, as well.  They are delicious in soups, sauces, salads, roasted, juiced, or eaten just as they are.  

Try out this simple recipe for fresh tomato salsa - you can find almost all of the ingredients at the market!

See you at the market!

We are still scheduling for our special tents through the end of September.  If you are an artist, musician, or are involved with a community organization or kids' group, e-mail us at indianafarmmarket@gmail.com if you'd like to participate!

Want our weekly blog posts sent straight to your inbox?  E-mail indianafarmmarket@gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.


CH Fields Craft Kitchen (inside the Hilton Garden Inn) "believes in real food, grown and harvested by the good folks in our community who take care of their land for future generations."

The Indiana Women's Flag Football League, established in 2015, is a non-contact flag football league open to all women ages 21 and up.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Week of July 19 & 22

Finally, we had such sunshine for both of our market days last week!  Saturday was gorgeous, and we had a great crowd!  Looking forward to more beautiful weather and busy market days to come.

Last Saturday, we enjoyed art by Ashley Bouton and information from SeniorLIFE Indiana.  We also welcomed two new vendors - The Spades and Wilds Market - and 8 Maples Farm joined us for the first time of the season!

This Saturday, stop by the Artisan Tent to shop handmade bath & body products by Lori Roberts.

This week, we also have a guest blog post!  Some of you may remember Sarayna Schock from our Community Tent a few weeks back.  Sarayna is a third year medical student from Penn State Hershey Medical Center and founder of Penn State ProduceRx.  She has been researching the benefits of healthcare-agriculture partnerships in Central Pennsylvania since 2015.  She was kind enough to share a post with us telling more about what she has learned.  Read on!


...But first...SAVE THE DATE!!

CUSTOMER APPRECIATION DAY is Saturday, July 29th!  We will have a full lineup of special tents, and a drawing for some of your favorite market goodies!  Bring the whole family for a fun morning at the market!


The Benefits of Healthcare-Agriculture Partnerships
Sarayna Schock

In 2015 when I set out to start a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)-patient partnership at our medical center, I was focused on helping connect patients with quality, nutritious food to benefit their dietary intake and chronic illnesses. It wasn’t until I began working closely with our initial partner farm that I began to consider what the program could potentially mean for local agriculture, local businesses, and the entire community.

I come from a long-line of farmers on my father’s side and healthcare providers on my mother’s side. I’ve come to appreciate that these two necessary sectors do not need to be mutually exclusive. Only 40% of Americans today consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, the recommended amount by US Dietary Guidelines (Guenther et al, 2006; Wilkins et al, 2015). Research has shown that plant-based diets are associated with improved weight management and reduced risk for chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers (Estruch et al, 2013; Lock et al, 2005). This equates to decreased healthcare costs for patients, employers, and the government. So why is it that healthcare-agriculture partnerships are so few and far between in our country?

In the past decade, there have been attempts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption amongst patients or underserved ‘food desert’ communities. These efforts have often utilized the ‘prescription-produce’ model in which physicians “prescribe” quality nutrition with the hope that patients will view the prescription with as much importance as they would a script for a statin to treat hypercholesterolemia. Past interventions have ranged from adding fruits to clinic offices to providing purchasing vouchers to grocery stores and local farmer’s markets (Buyuktuncer et al, 2014; Cavanagh et al, 2016; Quandt et al, 2013). Some of these interventions have even included one-on-one nutrition education or mentoring to individuals newly introduced to produce. However little has been done to link patients with Community Supported Agriculture.

Unlike grocery stores and farmer’s markets that patients must travel to, some located far from a patient’s residence, CSA programs often have pre-existing delivery sites throughout a specific region for participants to chose from. CSA links consumers with local farmers directly, allowing for patients to have an intimate connection with where their food is coming from and the farmers supplying it to them. These programs often include Open Farm Days or “Pick Your Own” opportunities, allowing participants the opportunity to develop an even deeper connection to the land their food is harvested from, as well as an appreciation for the work that goes into supplying the contents of their weekly boxes. For patients who have never seen an eggplant or kohlrabi before, receiving these items in their weekly box along with recipe ideas encourages utilization of produce that would have otherwise been skipped over at the grocery store.

Our partnership model also benefits the local economy. Partner farms benefit from the increased CSA share purchases, even while they offer the boxes at a small bulk discount to our patients. The program’s Facebook page and website serve as free marketing for the farms, as do the media opportunities the program sees due to it’s novel approach. Nearly all of our partner farms sell at local markets, allowing for additional purchases by participants, especially those closer to the markets and/or more willing to drive the extra distance after experiencing the quality of local agriculture. The farm’s participation in the program may also be seen favorably by non-program CSA members and thus encourage new non-program subscriptions and subscription renewals in this way. With new box drop-off sites being offered at local businesses and farmers markets this year, we anticipate increased profits for these local vendors as the box pick-up is bringing in new visitors to these locations. Similar to our partner farms, we also feature our partner markets and businesses online to increase marketing for them. These new connections between patients, local farms, and local businesses increase community-connectedness. In our pilot year, our initial partner farm cited receiving moving personal stories of gratitude and appreciation directly from program patients.

I believe the ProduceRx program model is easily replicable at other health systems across the country. I have found nearly all local farmers are enthusiastic about potential partnership in such a model as most entered farming to benefit the health of others while providing quality agricultural products to the community. In my experience it takes initiative from somewhere inside a health system to start such a program, as this is where the knowledge of “chain of command” is essential to move such a program proposal through the necessary channels to get approval and most importantly, support. I would encourage Indiana Regional Medical Center to make contact with local farms, three of whom have already expressed interest in participating in such a program, to address the most recent Community Health Needs Assessment’s identification of “obesity and overweight” as a major health problem and “healthy eating” as a top priority in the region (IRMC, 2015).

Sarayna Schock is a medical student at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey, Pennsylvania and founder of Penn State ProduceRx (http://hmc.pennstatehealth.org/producerx). She is a former Certified Pharmacy Technician and veteran of the United States Air Force. Sarayna earned her B.S. in Environmental Studies from American Military University. She enjoys traveling, cooking, and gardening in her free time.


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