Healthy Habits Start With Farm-Based Program

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Planting the seed for healthy habits. All kinds of green produce flourishing, to grow awareness of the benefits of healthy living.  It’s all part of an urban farm-based program.

On the fringe of the Quinnipiac River, a former parking lot now feeds an urban neighborhood, hungry for a healthier lifestyle. Rows of vegetables are harvested every week  planted by people like Janie McCotter battling chronic conditions or are at risk for one.

“I needed someone to educate me,” said McCotter, who has type II diabetes, “My numbers are better. My eating habits are better, my exercising program is better.”

Patients at the Fairhaven Community Health Center are referred to this free – 20 week educational program.

Elizabeth Magenheimer is a family nurse practitioner.

“We write prescriptions for drugs and many of us at Fairhaven will write prescriptions, please join the farm project.”

This is a Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation/New Haven Farms initiative.

“It makes me feel more healthier, less pain,” said Ruth Torres, who lives with rheumatoid arthritis.

She added, “the spinach, the kale, the arugula and I make smoothies with all those and all those greens and even the beets and everything, those are good for your immune system and it helps you with all of that.”

Once a week, participants go home with organic produce enough for every family member,  along with how to prepare it  so it packs a more nutritional punch.

Torres said, “all the cooking demonstrations they give here too, you learn something new, you learn how to do a new vegetable and you learn a lot vegetables that you though you never knew before.”

It’s all about growing a more health conscious community.

Laura Smith with Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation stressed, “they are getting all the skills they need to really build that healthy habit at home.”

The program is offered in Spanish and English. There are seven urban farms located throughout New Haven.


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