- Grayson Doucette, PhD, legislative aide for Assembly Member Joaquin Arambula, MD
- Douglas Shaw, CEO, American Hospital Management Corporation
- David Neal, CEO, Mad River Community Hospital
- Pamela Floyd, Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), Mad River Community Hospital
- Jayme Buckley, Mad River Community Hospital farmer
- Peter Bailey, Mad River Community Hospital food and nutritional manager
- Janne Page, Mad River Community Hospital administrative specialist
- Maria Sperber, CHA legislative advocate
- Trina Gonzalez, CHA vice president, policy
- Hospital Council – Northern & Central California
Starting 2022 off with some aspirational news: Assembly Member Dr. Joaquin Arambula’s (D-Fresno) office is interested in learning more about farm-to-hospital programs. As his office develops their thinking, they reached out to CHA to connect with member hospitals with active farm-to-hospital programs, one being Mad River Community Hospital (MRCH) in Humboldt County.
MRCH has provided much of its hospital nutrition program and onsite cafe with fresh, farm-grown fruits and vegetables since the farm started in 2008 with just one acre of land. The garden has since grown to include additional acreage, a 450-square-foot, state-of-the-art hydroponic greenhouse, and a John Deere tractor.
Pamela Floyd, CCO at MRCH, said their motivation to start the garden was simple: “Food is healing.” Their garden uses zero pesticides, is in the process of becoming California certified organic, composts all waste, provides volunteer opportunities for community members and local classrooms, offers excess product for sale at a farmstand and in produce boxes for staff, and has achieved a significant increase in Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems responses.
The farm also works with local ranchers and other farmers to bring in meat and tofu, and to supplement the weekly menus; this helps to support the greater Humboldt County farm economy and keep the carbon footprint of food transport as low as possible. The MRCH team has learned a great deal since their first harvest in 2008 and is happy to help other hospitals benefit from what they’ve learned.
Info COVID-19-era “victory gardens” don’t have to be limited to backyards. Health care organizations and their leaders have tremendous opportunities to not just treat sickness, but to actively model and foster health for their patients, employees, community, and the planet. If an onsite garden is too much, perhaps consider talking with your nutrition vendors about sourcing from local farmers and encourage your elected leaders to support farm-to-hospital initiatives.
RVP Meghan Hardin at firstname.lastname@example.org.