Health for the Healers: Farm-to-Hospital Pop-up Markets

You know the adage, ‘an apple a day’… As much as we may enjoy a warm rapport with our esteemed and friendly physicians, the crisp sweet crunch of a juicy apple (and the many, significant perks of eating a healthy diet) is far more appealing than a trip to the doctor’s office. The phrase strikes a somewhat ironic note however, when one considers the doctors, who could well benefit from a few more fresh apples themselves.

Medical professionals are notorious for being overworked, over-stressed, and emotionally and physically exhausted. Long, intense hours make it far too easy for them to neglect their own self-care.  What can we do as a community to help our healers, in whom we place the utmost trust and responsibility? Lots, probably. We can make healthy food access a little easier, for one thing. That’s exactly what’s happening this summer at Longmont United Hospital.

This summer, LiveWell Longmont collaborated with Boulder County Farmers Market and Longmont United Hospital’s Volunteer Services to bring weekly pop-up Farmers Markets to the hospital on Tuesday afternoons from 3-5 pm. As part of the pilot program, employees and patients can purchase a bag of fresh, seasonal produce from local farms for $25, available on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Cash, credit cards, and employee payroll deductions are accepted. “This project has been two years in the making,” says Erika Wey, our LiveWell Longmont Community Engagement Strategist. “We had an idea and approached [Boulder County Farmers Markets CEO] Brian Coppom, who passed on all his market knowledge and lessons learned to help make this pop up market as successful as it could be.” Longmont United Hospital Volunteer Services Director Laura Kinder facilitated volunteers who run the weekly markets, and devoted $5000 of her budget to purchase fresh, local produce. Each week, $500 worth of seasonal produce is purchased directly from local farmers, including Ollins Farms, and offered at the pop-up farmer’s market. Proceeds are returned to volunteer services. “The reception has been amazing,” Wey says. “Our second market sold out in three minutes.”

The first market, held Tuesday July 11th, featured items from Ollin Farms of Longmont, including farm fresh eggs, raspberries, beets, and sunflower shoots. Other participating farms include Red Hen Farms and Morton’s Organic Orchards. “Doctors and nurses are always saving lives, but so often they have no time to take care of themselves,” says Kena Guttridge of Ollin Farms. Thank you, our #HealthyLongmont community, for working together to change that, and thank you, our medical teams, for all that you do!

Hungry for more info? Check out this write-up in Denver Business Journal!

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