Their goal is to tackle three major local health issues: poor nutrition, low physi- cal activity and overweight; diabetes; and mental health. A Food Farmacy pro- gram for those with or at risk for Type 2 diabetes will provide fresh produce prescriptions at an onsite farmstand, as well as cooking classes. Erhardt recalls her life-changing experi-

T ey understand that careful land and animal stewardship is key to soil, plant, animal and human health.

Healing Communities More hospitals nationwide are investing in farms and farmers’ markets to boost patient, employee and community health by increasing access to nutrient-dense, fresh, healthful food. One exceptional example is the new partner- ship between Virginia’s Allegheny Mountain Institute (AMI) and Augusta Health, an independent, community-owned nonprofi t

hospital in Augusta County, Virginia. T e AMI Fellowship program

prepares individuals to become farmers, teachers and ambassadors for health- promoting food systems. “Both AMI and Augusta Health believe that access to excellent health care includes access to healthy food,” explains Sue Erhardt, the institute’s executive director. The AMI Farm at Augusta Health

initiative will create an onsite produc- tion farm and a community venue for food, nutrition and gardening education.


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ence as a teen, hearing American labor leader Cesar Chavez speak about farm worker exposure to pesticides and related cancer clusters. She’s proud to say, “T e farm project will exemplify sustainable practices for growing vegetables, including organic four- season crops and companion planting, while promoting soil health. “We believe this project will promote

a better quality of life for staff , patients and community members.” T at’s the power of farming when it’s dedicated to optimum health.

Melinda Hemmelgarn is a registered dieti- tian, writer and Food Sleuth Radio host with, in Columbia, MO. Connect at

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