Farms and Health: A Guide to Farm & Garden Programs in Healthcare

Author: Jana Stewart, (MPH/MS)
Advisor: SFSI affiliated faculty Raymond de Young
April 2016

At a time when diet-related disease is at an all-time high, there is an opportunity
for a paradigm shift in the healthcare system. The focus for decades has been the
treatment of symptoms, but a new focus on the social determinants of health and
primary prevention is opening the door to meaningful, patient-centered wellness care. A University of Maryland study (2013) found that one’s behavior and physical environment–including the foods they have access to and consume–account for 70% of health outcomes, compared to just 10% from medical care. If health systems want to treat and prevent disease, they are coming to realize that their scope must widen to include wellness more broadly. Healthy eating is a critical piece of wellness, and a key determinant for a number of potential ailments. Health Care Without Harm reports that hundreds of hospitals across the country now offer on-site farmers’ markets, on-site gardens or farms, and locally-sourced produce in patient and staff meals. Farm-to-Healthcare programs and pledges address a growing need for nutritional education and healthy food access. Such efforts combine food and health systems using diverse partnerships and creative programming. One such embodiment of farm-to-healthcare programming is on-site cultivation. These growing programs combine healthy food procurement, nutrition education, physical activity, volunteerism, place-based awareness, environmental sustainability, and other benefits. Download the full guide here