Tobey Hospital promotes healthy eating with farmers markets, CSA program

By Jaime Rebhan | Apr 28, 2013

Emergency room. Maternity ward. Intensive care. And produce department.

Come June, Southcoast Health System will host weekly farmers’ markets on Mondays at Tobey Hospital, and Tuesday through Thursday at three of its other locations, in an effort to make fresh foods more accessible to Wareham and the surrounding communities.

The nonprofit is also offering residents an opportunity to participate in a community sustainability agriculture (CSA) program.

“We all want to focus on prevention and keeping people healthy,” explained Kerry Mello, a Wareham resident and community benefits manager for Southcoast Health System, “not just taking care of people who are sick.”

Southcoast Health System has partnered with Silverbrook Farm in Dartmouth for the CSA program. The program provides locally-grown produce for 19 weeks — from basil, broccoli, corn, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and turnips to apples, blueberries, grapes, melons, peaches, pears, and more.

Silverbook may also occasionally throw in locally-produced cheeses and its own free-range eggs, preservative-free jams, and mustards.

The program is offering a full- or half-share box for $741 and $399, respectively, for the season. Payments can be made in full or in three installments, and boxes can be picked up at one of the four weekly farmers’ markets.

“I think the reason why the CSA is fascinating is it does two things,” said Mello. “It brings more fresh fruits and vegetables to people, but it also helps to support and expand local agriculture.”

And no one can deny the health benefits of getting more fruits and veggies.

“Overall, only 23% of people in [the greater New Bedford] region eat five fruits and vegetables every day,” explained Mello, referencing the recommended daily intake for most people. “When you look at the region, almost 60% of people are overweight.”

Some of the local participants at the farmers’ markets will be Apponagansett Farm South Dartmouth, Cervelli Farm of Rochester, Mama Stella’s Original Cape Cod Seasoning of Osterville, Sampson Farm of Westport, and Westport Town Farm.

Produce at the markets will include everything from lettuce, kale, celery and carrots to potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini.

And to ensure that everyone can benefit from the farmers’ markets, Mello says the organization is committed to offering Electronic Benefits Transfer machines at each, so WIC and SNAP coupons (food stamps) can be accepted.

“We want this to be accessible to everyone,” Mello said.

The farmers’ market schedule, beginning June 17, is as follows: Mondays from 3 to 6 p.m. at Tobey Hospital; Tuesdays from 3 to 5 p.m. at South Coast Business Center, Fairhaven; Wednesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford; Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. at Charlton Memorial Hospital, Fall River. The markets conclude in October.

The deadline to join the Southcoast CSA program is June 1. For more information, visit Mello and Andy Pollack of Silverbook Farm will also offer information at Tobey Hospital on May 4 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., outside the hospital’s cafeteria. Pollack will have “microgreens” that he’s currently growing at the farm on hand to taste.

Farmers and bakers interested in joining the farmers’ markets can contact Sydney Patten at 508-961-5079.

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