St. Joe's Staff Farmer
Produce from the farm and other local farms also is sold at a weekly market in the hospital's main lobby and is available at one of the lobby food carts on non-market days. The farm's activities have been incorporated into educational programs for schools, scout troops, patients, and student dietitians doing internships at the hospital.
"What we produce on the farm cannot meet the needs of what our chefs require" to feed the hospital's hundreds of patients, McDowell acknowledges. But she's passionate about it being "more than a dog-and-pony show.
"It provides food, but it also provides us the means to deliver an educational message," she explains. "We've had patients with eating disorders and pediatric obesity come out, pick produce from a hoop house, and take it over to the culinary studio and prepare meals. We're very committed to not feeding our patients to be future patients."
This year, Bair says, he's "planting grapes and raspberries. We'll put in some trellises right in front of the farm so you can see them when you drive up." More fruit will eventually be forthcoming from the pear, cherry, and apple trees planted in the newest hoop house, which was built last summer.