Now in its third season, the St. Luke’s Rodale Institute Organic Farm is proud to announce several new partnerships that will help to grow its ability to impact the health and wellness of the Lehigh Valley community.
The organic farm, located at the Anderson Campus, is a joint initiative by Rodale Institute and St. Luke’s University Health Network that enables St. Luke’s to provide organic produce to patients, staff and visitors.
Courtesy of St. Luke's Media Services
This year the St. Luke’s Rodale Institute Organic Farm is partnering with the Kellyn Foundation and its mobile farmer’s market, “Eat Real Food Mobile Market.” Kellyn has purchased a truck, trailer and an industrial sized cooler that will be stocked with produce from the organic farm and will travel to low income areas in Northampton County where people don't have access to fresh produce.
There have been numerous studies proving that organic fruits and vegetables offer many advantages over conventionally-grown foods, including increased amounts of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and antioxidants according to Bonnie Colyle, MD, MS, Director of Community Health, St. Luke’s University Health Network.
“From a health perspective, this translates into a reduced incidence of heart disease and some cancers and a lowered risk of common conditions such as cancer, heart disease, allergies and hyperactivity in children,” Dr. Coyle says. “That’s why we feel it is so important to find a way to get our organic produce into the hands of these underprivileged communities.”
To supply the growing network of employees, patients and community members the farm will now serve, the Rodale team planted 100 different varieties of produce this season – up from 30 varieties last year. Some new vegetables that are featured this season include: melons, corn, brussel sprouts, ground cherries, kholrabi, leeks and okra. The farm has also doubled in size, now totaling 11.5 acres. As part of the partnership, Rodale Institute provides St. Luke’s University Health Network with an onsite farmer to run the farm who follows organic farming practices. Lynn Trinza, or “Farmer Lynn,” has been working the farm since its inception.
Courtesy of St. Luke's Media Services
This year Farmer Lynn will be adding two work study students to her roster of farm hands, thanks to a new partnership between St. Luke’s Rodale Institute Organic Farm and the Children’s Home of Easton (CHE). These “farmers-in-training” will be compensated at the end of the summer for their work.
“I am really excited that we will be involving these young people in what we do,” Trinza said. “Exposing the next generation to organic farming practices and the many benefits of eating organic fruits and vegetables is one more way that St. Luke’s and the Rodale Institute are ‘planting a seed’ in sustainable and local food production and the best way to ensure that our farm continues to flourish well into the future.”
Todd Nemura, Wellness Program Manager from the Children's Home of Easton, said he is thankful for the work that the organic farm is doing to bring healthier eating into the community and for the opportunity being given to the CHE students this summer. “Hopefully, this is a partnership that will continue to grow as the farm continues to grow and more of our students will be able to work on the farm year after year,” he said.
Today, the St. Luke’s University Health Network continues to be one of the few hospitals in the nation to offer patients organic produce grown at an organic farm onsite at a hospital campus.
This fresh organic produce is distributed every week in season to all six hospital cafeterias. The patient menu available in all six of St. Luke’s hospitals has been re-designed to incorporate fresh, organic produce from the farm and to increase awareness for patients choosing menu options. By providing patients and employees with local grown organic produce, St. Luke’s is showing a commitment to the environment and promoting the health of its patients and the community.
In 2015, St. Luke’s University Health Network and The Rodale Institute were the recipients of an “Excellence in Sustainability” Award presented at the 2015 Da Vinci Science Center Hall of Fame Gala. The award recognizes organizations that are advancing sustainable business practices and lifestyles through eastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey. In addition, St. Luke’s Anderson Campus was awarded the “Save Our Planet Award” from the Pocono Chamber of Commerce. The award recognizes local businesses, non-profits, institutions, groups and individuals for their commitment to protecting or improving Monroe County's environment.