When staff at the Lakenau Medical Center near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania learned that many of their patients had little access to healthy food, they decided to make food access a healthcare priority. In 2015, the hospital partnered with a local food-advocacy nonprofit, Greener Partners, to create a half-acre farm on the medical center’s campus, which has provided more than 4,000 pounds of produce to patients at no cost. Educators lead pop-up markets, cooking demonstrations, and classes on nutrition in waiting rooms and wards throughout the facility, and thousands of students learn about gardening and nutrition at the farm each year.Read moreand take a look at thisYes Magazine articleabout the farm.
Dream of Wild Health is an organic farm and seed bank dedicated to helping American Indian people reclaim their physical, spiritual, and mental health by returning to their own foodways. Read Dream of Wild Health’s story in this Medium article.
Fresh Prescription is an innovative program that connects public health with the health of the local food economy. It was started in Detroit, Michigan in 2013 with the goal of increasing low-income residents’ access to nourishing, locally-grown fruits and vegetables. The program enables primary care physicians to prescribe fresh produce to their patients as a way of treating and preventing chronic diet-related diseases, such as type II diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer. Learn more about Fresh Prescription and similar initiatives currently being piloted throughout the United States.
Growing Support facilitates 30 gardening clubs at nursing homes in the UK, to address the isolation, loneliness, and sedentary lifestyle common among elderly people – particularly those with dementia. Therapeutic gardening provides exercise, intergenerational social activity, engagement with nature, and an opportunity to contribute to community gardens and to grow some of their own food. Volunteers from the local community guide the gardening sessions. The Growing Support website provides more details about the program. Photo by Sue Jackson.
The story of Hope for Health began in 2013, when Dianne Biritjalawuy, an Indigenous Yolngu resident of Australia’s Elcho Island, recovered from a serious health crisis by turning away from processed, store-bought food and returning to a more traditional diet. The experience was so transformative that Dianne raised AU$60,000 to bring twelve Yolngu women to a local health retreat, where they, too, experienced dramatic improvements in chronic health problems, and discovered a new vitality. These women are now providing the community with local-language workshops and classes in cooking and health, all based on the Yolngu traditional diet. They are also working to establish a Hope for Health Centre, which will sell locally-produced foods and teach traditional methods of food preparation, thus providing opportunities that can help empower the entire Yolngu community. To learn more, visit the Hope for Health website.
Founded in 1984, the Ixpiyakok Women’s Association (ADEMI) is a local food organization run by and for women and families in Guatemala’s Chimaltenango region. ADEMI originally comprised a small group of Mayan widows who wished to combat malnutrition in their community. Now, ADEMI has grown to promote the value and health benefits of ancient seed varieties, native heirloom fruits and vegetables and family gardening in over thirty communities in the region. To learn more about ADEMI, read this case study by the Equator Initiative.
The Pacari Network is a medicinal ecology initiative in the cerrado (savannah) biome of Brazil, working with 47 traditional pharmacies to cultivate and catalog medicinal plants and preserve the ecology of the land in which they grow. Smallholder farmers, gatherers, agrarian reform settlers, women’s groups, people receiving immigrant and health benefits, coconut palm workers, and community organizations representing Afro-Brazilians and indigenous peoples are all represented in the network. In addition to supporting community pharmacies, Pacari has developed a set of standards for sustainable harvesting and quality control of medicinal plants, and has created the “Pharmacopoeia of the People of the Cerrado,” a database for recording known remedies, techniques for harvesting, and other bits of medicinal information which might otherwise be lost. In 2012, the Pacari Network won the Equator Prize, a biennial award given to community-based, rural sustainable development organizations. To learn more, see the Pacari Network’s Equator case study.
Pax Herbals in Nigeria is pioneering a whole-person community-based healthcare approach, centered on organically grown herbal medicines. Its Herbarium project is documenting indigenous healing wisdom, and has collected more than 5,000 species of medicinal plants in Nigeria. It’s now conducting scientific research on the plants, with the aim of integrating African healing traditions into an evidence-based medical system. With its hospital, research laboratories, and farms, the center has created hundreds of jobs and student internships in a rural area, slowing the migration of local youth to cities while preserving local ecosystems and biodiversity. Learn more about their innovative systems at paxherbals.net and paxafricana.org.
The Hoffice Movement is working to take on the loneliness that is sweeping through society in what they describe as “epidemic” proportions. Hoffice-ing helps people arrange gatherings to work, network, eat, socialize, exercise and more — simply by facilitating the establishment of group home offices in members’ living rooms and kitchens. Read more about the Hoffice Movement in this Medium article.