Farm Fresh for Health is a bold, holistic approach to improving the health and wellbeing of our community and supporting local economies. The project builds on the idea that local food systems are intrinsically connected to community health—economic, social, and physical. Local food and farm interactions, such as cooking classes, farm visits, shopping at farmers markets, or participating in a CSA (community supported agriculture), encourage us to eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, get outside, cook more at home, and eat together with friends and families—all of which has the potential to make us a healthier, happier community.
Farm Fresh for Health intersects across ASAP’s work, including the following programs:
Farm Fresh Produce Prescription
Working with ASAP, healthcare providers can prescribe fresh fruits and vegetables to their patients in order to help treat or prevent diet-related illness. Patients redeem their prescription at local farmers markets or through a local produce delivery service or a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box. Find out more about ASAP’s Farm Fresh Produce Prescription.
Social environments significantly impact food choices and are a crucial intervention point to increase healthy eating. Farmers markets naturally offer environments that encourage eating fresh and seasonal fruit and vegetables, cooking at home, and eating together with friends and family. The prescription incentive provides healthcare providers with action steps that fit within the healthcare process.
Community in Action
Community in Action is an initiative identifying and showcasing best strategies and innovations that connect communities to healthy, local food and farming in the Appalachian Grown region. ASAP will provide support for these projects and produce case studies in the summer of 2022. Projects may span the gamut of the local food and health intersection, including partnerships between farms, farmers markets and healthcare providers to expand food access and nutrition education; workplace or community CSA, local food purchasing, or farmers market incentive programs to compliment health and wellness initiatives; addressing barriers to healthy cooking preparation or restoring a healthy relationship with food.
Farm Fresh for Health Cooking Demos
ASAP partners with community health professionals to produce virtual cooking demos and recipes to help community members shop at farmers markets and get the most out of seasonal products. Watch the demos and download recipes for free.
Workplace Wellness and Community Supported Agriculture
ASAP can help employers set up local food and farm-related wellness programs and benefits. For instance, with a workplace CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), employees sign on as a group to purchase weekly “shares” of a farm’s harvest. The farmer is able to deliver boxes of produce and other farm good directly to your place of business. Learn more about workplace CSAs. Listen to an episode of “Growing Local” about a workplace CSA and employee wellness program at the City of Asheville. For more information about workplace CSAs and other workplace wellness connections, contact Larissa Lopez.
Engaging Healthcare Practitioners
In 2018, ASAP presented Healthy Eating in Practice, a national conference for physicians and other healthcare professionals. The conference focused on changing the culture of healthcare to better support healthy eating behaviors and offered experiential farm education alongside medical expertise. Beginning in the summer of 2022, ASAP will present a series of regional symposiums in Western North Carolina to highlight the principles of Farm Fresh for Health and engage healthcare professionals.
Farmers Market Engagement
Farmers markets are central to connecting the community in a very direct way with the health benefits of good food. They are a primary outlet for farmers to build face-to-face relationships with customers. Markets provide physical spaces that serve as social centers that introduce people to fresh foods and seasonal products. ASAP works with farmers markets across the region to help develop and promote community engagement activities, such as coordinated health and wellness events; cooking demos; recipes and cookbooks to share with customers; and healthy food access programs like SNAP at farmers markets.