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 more and take a look at this Yes Magazine article about 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 full story on Medium
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. After meeting with a physician at a neighborhood health clinic, patients receive prescriptions that can be redeemed for free produce at participating farmers markets. The farmers who “fill” the prescriptions are reimbursed with grant funds supported in part by local hospitals and healthcare providers. The program also includes nutrition counseling and classes on cooking healthy meals with seasonally-available produce, which are especially targeted towards low-income populations that are disproportionately impacted by diet-related diseases. Better access to healthy food is just one of the benefits of Fresh Prescription: by participating in the program, small farmers gain income and new customers, and more food dollars circulate in the local economy. 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 Hoffice Movement
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 on Medium
Hope for Health
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. Most recently, in August 2015, the cross-cultural education group Why Warriors, which aims to bridge the cultural gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, received grant money to train local Yolngu as nutrition and exercise coaches. 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.
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.
Related Planet Local entries from other categories:
- Food, Farming and Fisheries: Ixpiyakok Women’s Association (Guatemala)