By Erin Hinga
As a recent graduate from Columbia University in New York City and new to the state of Michigan, it is very refreshing to be surrounded by farmland that allows agriculture and nature to exist in harmony. I am overwhelmed by the amount of fresh and healthy food that the Farm at St. Joe’s produces each day! The cherry tomatoes are sweet as ever, the peppers are beginning to turn a vibrant red, and the garlic is ready to be enjoyed!
My first week on the farm as a U of M Dietetic Intern, has taught me the importance of inspiring members of the community to make food choices that are good for their own health, as well as the health of our planet. The Wednesday Farmers Market at St Joe’s Hospital is an effective way to foster enthusiasm for fresh and local vegetables, while simultaneously showcasing the success of sustainable agricultural practices. Hospital employees, patients, and various visitors are very eager to learn about where the food comes from and how the food is grown. Thus, they are more compelled to buy and eat the fresh and nutritious produce.
Overall, I believe more hospitals should emulate Farmer Dan’s work at St. Joe’s by connecting fresh, local, and organic foods to the healthcare system. Creating a health supportive environment within a hospital provides an ideal opportunity to advance health and prevent chronic diseases for employees, patients, and visitors! I feel fortunate to be involved with such an innovative farm program that educates the healthcare community about the connection between good food and better health! I look forward to gaining more experience and insight during my second week at the Farm at St. Joes!