Cultivating Wellness: Island Health Farm Stand Provides Healthy Options for Staff and Community
Summer in the Skagit Valley is special for many reasons — long-awaited sunshine, numerous hiking trails and the opportunity to enjoy and explore the outdoors. One of the best things about summer in the valley, is the abundance of locally grown fruits and vegetables available to the community.
As a small, public hospital, Island Health prioritizes meaningful engagement with the Skagit Valley community. Our organization works hard to be the best healthcare partner to both our patients and staff. One way that Island Health works to better the health of the community is to provide access to fresh locally grown food during the summer through our weekly Island Health Farm Stand.
The Island Health Farm Stand program was started in 2006 by the organization’s Employee Wellness committee, now called the Morale, Wellness and Recognition (MWR) committee, to promote healthy and local eating. From June through September, staff and community members are able to visit the hospital’s 24th Street courtyard every Tuesday for fresh and local goods from four diverse vendors.
Barb LeDuc, MWR President, is passionate about wellness and shares that “the Island Health Farm Stand ensures that staff and the community have access to healthy, locally grown produce every week during the growing season. Fruits and vegetables are picked at the peak of their ripeness—often that morning—offering a host of nutritional benefits. The Island Health Farm Stand gives a handy mid-week option for stocking up on fresh produce and whole-grain artisan breads for your family.”
The Island Health Farm Stand is a founding partner of the Genuine Skagit Valley initiative promoting local food producers and is proud to partner with the following local vendors who are integral in the formation of Farm Stand.
- Schuh Farms provides a wide selection of Skagit-grown produce, berries, flowers, honey, and cookies as well as choice items from family farms in Eastern Washington.
- Water Tank Bakery brings fresh artisan breads and cookies made using craft techniques and Washington grown Cairnspring Mills flour.
- Dog Island Mushrooms grows a variety of culinary mushrooms on Guemes Island and supplies mushrooms by the pound and mushroom growing kits.
- Ebb & Flow Herb Farm grows culinary and medicinal herbs with which they sell fresh, dried, and as blended teas and seasonings. Also available are artisan goat milk soaps and selection of fresh vegetables.
These vendors bring hyperlocal goods to the Island Health community, meaning that most of the products are grown and made on, or within, the vendor’s property. Amber Phillips, MS, RD, registered dietitian, considers this especially important because hyper-locally grown foods are the most nutrient dense produce available for consumption, offering the body a wide spectrum of beneficial nutrients to support all aspects of health.
This will be the 17th year of the Farm Stand program, and Island Health is excited to continue to support local businesses and decrease barriers to healthy food options. To help inspire and educate patrons on how to cook with some of the produce available at the Farm Stand, Island Health will be offering weekly recipe cards with dishes from the Island Health Bistro and dietitians.
To learn more about the Island Health Farm Stand and to receive weekly email updates on available produce and information, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or feel free to stop by the Farm Stand on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. — 3 p.m. starting June 6th and ask your questions in person.
A happy community is a healthy community! Join Island Health in supporting local farmers and cultivating wellness beyond the hospital walls.