CoxHealth partners with Springfield Community Gardens to build hospital farm to feed patients and employees
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -
CoxHealth and the Springfield Community Gardens are partnering to start a farm on Primrose Street, down the road from Cox South Hospital. Cox’s system director of food and nutrition, Jason Bauer, says that they want to provide organic, healthy food to people in the Ozarks and they have big plans for this farm.
“If we do get the five hoop houses we will, if everything goes as planned, be the largest hospital farm in the nation,” Bauer says.
Right now the farm, which they’re calling the Amanda Belle farm, is in phase one. The farm got its name in honor of the founder of Cox health’s mother, who was known for giving food to patients in need.
When finished, CoxHealth employees can buy a percentage of the crops and they’ll get a bag of groceries from the farm through the Community Supported Agriculture program. It’s going to provide food for patients at the hospital too.
“A physician can write prescription and then that employee or that patient is able to come over here, maybe through a clinic, and actually pick up their groceries,” Bauer says. “The other way we’re gonna work with patients is trying to put it on our actual food we serve them in the hospital.”
Bauer says the plans for this farm were years in the making, well before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but once that happened, they felt like this was even more important than ever before.
“The pandemic in some small way kinda helped us out as far as it goes because it identified the need for it,” Bauer says. “There’s a lot of food insecurity in the Ozarks and that’s kinda one of our topics is to really tackle that food insecurity.”
Springfield Community Gardens has already partnered with CoxHealth before, for its smaller farm at Cox North Hospital. They’re hoping to teach more people in the community how to farm when the project is finished.
“They take people and they train them how to run their own farms and so every year we get a new group of people that come in and learn how to plant, how to grow and how to market the produce,” Bauer says.
Eventually, the plan is to also create a farmers market so they can sell the produce within the community. The pandemic did push construction back so the project is expected to be up and fully functioning within the next three years.
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