Recipe: Peanut Sauce

peanut-sauce

Photo from Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap Recipe Book

Stop by for some fresh vegetables and peanut dipping sauce at the Farmers’ Market this week! This yummy recipe, from Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap, is easy to make and adds excitement to any type of produce. Great for individual snacking or as a party dip, this peanut sauce is sure to be a winner!

Warning: Young Minds Photosynthesizing at the Farm

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By Claire Roess, Dietetic Intern, Summer 2016

While hospital-based farms provide healthy and tasty produce for inpatient food trays, they also offer a whole lot more than that. They allow hospital staff members to rent plots and grow their own vegetables, they engage with the community and serve as local places to volunteer, and they form partnerships with neighborhood organizations. Speaking of partnerships, one of the most important roles of these farms is to educate children attending nearby schools.

The Farm at St. Joe’s values such education and aims to “foster joy and discovery through inquiry and exploration of the natural world and food.” Every year, third and fifth graders from Ypsilanti Community Schools come to the farm to learn about how food is grown. Third graders explore the different parts of the plant, and they do interactive activities to understand the differences between soil and dirt and how plants go from seed to compost. Also, they receive a nutrition lesson focused on food advertising and label reading. Additionally, the kids make many observations outside on the farm and predict what will happen in the future. Fifth graders talk about how farming is a science, as it is based on data collection and informed decision-making. They also learn about the life cycle of calcium and do a hands-on activity to model photosynthesis. Furthermore, these students learn about the nutrients in different colored foods and what the nutrients do for the body. They also compare food items in terms of making healthy choices. Both age groups pick and eat a healthy snack during their time at the Farm.

While all of this sounds beneficial, is there any evidence to support experimental garden- or farm-based education? There is, in fact! Several studies show that hands-on interactive activities support children’s development, and hands-on garden activities teach children life skills that allow them to contribute to their local communities. Also, providing education in combination with practical learning resulted in children consuming more fruits and vegetables than if the children only received education and did no hands-on activities. Due to eating more fruits and vegetables, the children also ate more fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C, contributing to overall healthier eating behaviors. Children became more excited about farming and eating produce when they were able to see firsthand how the food was grown. Therefore, these studies suggest that by supporting hands-on learning, the Farm at St. Joe’s is also helping children eat healthier.

Want to schedule a school trip to the Farm? Please contact Amanda Sweetman at amanda.sweetman@stjoeshealth.org or 734-712-HOOP (4667). We’d love to show you what the Farm is all about!

About Claire:

Claire Roess, MPH, is a Dietetic Intern from the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She completed a two-week rotation at the Farm, learning about planting, harvesting, volunteer coordination, and using farming to educate both children and adults. She is excited to incorporate what she learned into her practice as a dietitian!

Recipe: Vegetable Jambalaya

Vegetable Jambalaya

Photo from Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap Recipe Book

Vegetable Jambalaya is on the menu at the Farmers’ Market this week! From Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap collection of recipes, this quick and easy jambalaya recipe is a great way to make sure you eat your vegetables!

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Also this week, make sure you pick up some peppers from the Market! The Farm has too many to count!

Know your Produce: Pesticide Practices at The St. Joe’s Farm

By Molly MacDonald, Dietetic Intern Summer 2016

Pesticide Practices

Any farmer or avid gardener can tell you how annoying it is to have all their hard work literally eaten away by insects and pests. And while some go for the RoundUp or any commercial insecticide on the shelves at Home Depot, here at The St. Joe’s Farm, using natural pesticides, only when necessary, is the go-to. And who are the usual suspects here on The Farm? Well, this year we’re dealing with white flies (pictured above), the occasional flea beetle and the infamously well-camouflaged hornworms, who always enjoy a good meal.

Pesticides, which could be either naturally or synthetically derived, are substances that terminate, repel or alter the functioning of a pest. Natural pesticides, which are primarily used in organic farming practices, could be anything from natural soaps and detergents, to sulfur sprays, or even treating crops with non-pathogenic bacteria.

For instance, when those pesky bugs start making their mark on good produce, The St. Joe’s Farm Manager Amanda Sweetman typically reaches for one of the most-widely used, natural pesticides in organic farming. It is a little microbe known as Bt (which stands for bacillus thuringiensis) that is naturally found within the soil. It thrives off of feeding on larvae and can even produce toxins that can destroy the stomach lining of the insects that eat it. And while its effects sound very unpleasant, it is harmless for humans to consume! The National Organic Program (NOP), overseen by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), follows rigorous standards and regulations of these pesticides to ensure they are safe to consume.

Regardless, pesticides are not loosely used on St. Joe’s Farms. In fact, a lot of the time it’s the natural predators, such as birds and beneficial insects, which are relied upon to keep the pest population down. However, if the crops are showing signs of degradation or damage due to insect and pest abuse, then the bacteria-based pesticide, Bt, will only be used on those damaged crops, specifically. You can think of the pesticide practice here at St. Joe’s as being like an antibiotic treatment. Physicians will avoid prescribing antibiotics unless the patient truly shows signs of needing it; that’s how the plants and produce are cared for here at The Farm.

While this is one way to care for your crops, there are so many other techniques and bug repellants out there. In fact, some people make their own natural insecticides at home! Do you have a garden or farm at home? Try using these techniques to keep your produce looking beautiful!

Visit the Farm today!

Come visit us at the Farm today, July 28th! We are hosting a special event for our Prescription for Health participants and we want you to come too! Last year was so much fun!

What: Open house and farm market

When: 3:30-5:30pm

Where: The Farm at St. Joe’s

5557 McAuley Dr.

Ypsilanti, MI 48197

(Map)

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Details: We will only be accepting cash, check, or Prescription for Health tokens.

Healthy Farms Mean Healthy Communities

by Vivianne Swart, Dietetic Intern Summer 2016

Healthy Communities

In recent years there has been a movement to increase urban farming, and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital System is right on trend. Although most people think of farming as a distant activity done out in the country, small plots of land that are used well can provide food for communities through farmer’s markets or places like Food Gatherers, as food rescue and food bank program serving Washtenaw County, Food Gatherers exists to alleviate hunger and eliminate its causes in our community. With an employee population of around 5500 people and 550 beds, SJMHS is like a small city in and of itself. In order to increase sustainability, continue innovation, and increase community engagement, the farm was born. The operation continues to grow and change, but one constant is the contribution to wellness for patients, staff, interns, and volunteers.

While people who have worked with the farm can tell you about how great it is and how nice it feels to really connect with food, scientific evidence also backs up their claims. Spending time in nature has been shown to improve emotional wellbeing and relieve stress, increase positive mood, enhance life skills, reduce mental fatigue, and increase concentration. Some studies have suggested that gardeners have a higher life satisfaction and rate their health and physical activity levels higher than non-gardeners; additionally, gardening and related activities have also been linked to improved levels of social, physical, and occupation wellness. In partnership with some area public schools, students have had the opportunity to visit the farm here at SJMHS, which research has linked with improved behavior, encouraging curiosity, engagement, focused learning, and mindfulness. And hospital staff are getting benefits too – research says that offering opportunities for wellness for employees can reduce direct and indirect health care costs and absence; avoid illness or injury; and improve the quality of work life and morale.

But what about farms like the one at SJMHS that are in more densely populated areas? A large piece of research found that green spaces like those found around SJMHS can decrease stress, and that working with nature around you (such as with farming) will increase physical activity levels and stamina, lower chances of heart disease, and make you happier! Through having the farm located right in Ypsilanti, it makes these fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs much more accessible to everyone in the community.

Feeling inspired? Want to experience the farm for yourself? We would love for you to support our farm! Stop by the farmer’s market near the main entrance of SJMHS Wednesdays 11am-1pm, volunteer your time, or spread the word about us.

About Vivianne:

Vivianne Swart is a dietetic intern from the University of Michigan, who spent a week at the farm as a rotation. She has her MPH from the University of Michigan and is a part-time yoga instructor. She is excited to bring her knowledge about sustainability and farming to her profession in nutrition!