The FOOD for Lane County Youth Farm has returned to Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend, with a bounty of summer produce each Thursday.
This is the second year for the popular farm stand, which last year sold some 7,600 pounds of fruits and veggies to campus caregivers, patients, visitors and community members. The hours are the same: Thursdays, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Organizers hope this year will be even better, thanks to a new location: the shady Fir Grove, to the south of the Emergency Department at the south end of the hospital. Off-site visitors have easy, close-by parking in the south-end employee lot (signage directs people to the area). Last year, the stand was on the front north lawn, near Northwest Specialty Clinics.
Early in the season, expect to find salad mix, spinach, lettuce, carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, Swiss chard, kale, bok choy, strawberries and much more. The stand accepts cash, checks, food stamps or Women, Infant and Children’s (WIC) program coupons. How late into the season it runs depends on the harvest, but last year’s final day was Oct. 13.
“We’re so pleased with this partnership,” says Sarah Grall, Oregon Heart & Vascular Institute’s Manager of Cardiovascular Wellness & Rehabilitation. “We really want to emphasize the public message of increasing fruit and vegetable consumption as a means of disease prevention and health enhancement. Through this collaboration, we help increase access to healthy food and make healthy choices the easy choices.”
The farm stand last year yielded $10,500 for the innovative Youth Farm, which combines hunger relief with youth services and education. The 3-acre farm, located in the Gateway neighborhood at 750 Flamingo Dr., provides paying work, job training and education to teenagers throughout the spring and summer, and serves as an educational work site for at-risk youth throughout the year. The youth farmers help grow and sell more than 35 kinds of organic vegetables, more than half of which are donated to the local food bank. The rest is sold Saturdays during the growing season at the farm, and through a Community Supported Agriculture program.
"Last year's farm stand was a great success," says Ted Purdy, Youth Farm Manager. "The teenage farm stand co-managers had a wonderful time meeting lots of new people, and handled the sales and work load with ease."
Sacred Heart is part of a growing movement around the country to bring farm-fresh, locally grown fare to hospitals—a goal that aligns perfectly with the mission to provide medical care while also promoting community health and wellness.