Saturday morning I made my usual trip to the Farmers Market on Park Street. I have been going for years, usually to stop and see family members working or to stop at my favorite booths. This time of year I go for asparagus, rhubarb or plants.
As I was wandering I was thinking how the market had changed over the years, both in terms of the nationalities represented and what is being sold, as well as how busy the market has become.
This Saturday I saw some of our employees, physicians and friends, all sharing the same sense of community that you can only get at the market. (Parking at Green Hills would be much easier!)
As we begin to redefine providing health services to include a substantial focus on improving community health, there are some lessons for us at the market.
Access to fresh food will draw people, and in that experience, you can also share education and support around other issues.
How many areas in our community cannot access this experience, and how do we act as a catalyst to change that? Two summers ago we added a weekly stand from the farmers market to our campus for our employees. There is also a mobile market that stops in Syracuse neighborhoods. When a local grocery store closed on our North side, our Northside Urban Partnership advocated behind the scenes for a new store recognizing its importance in community health. Lastly we are watching more urban gardens develop, and have supported this effort with donations.
The growing community of new citizens on the North side is bringing with it new foods and ideas for products which the Northside Urban Partnership is also looking to help support business opportunities.
On the West side we are co-locating our new Westside Family Health Center adjacent to Nojaims Market where we are exploring how to interface health care and community health improvement.
This is new ground for us to explore, but walking through the market on Saturday gave me hope we are building on the right formula -- engaging families and access to good food, is part of building a healthy community.