Acreage that was once farmland will soon return to its
roots, as CoxHealth adds a farm to help feed its patients and employees.
The farm, created in partnership with Springfield Community Gardens (SCG), will be located across Primrose Street from Cox South. It will grow a variety of seasonal produce that will benefit patients with dietary needs, as well as be available to employees to purchase through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
“Plans for the farm originated prior to the COVID-19 pandemic’s arrival in the Ozarks, but now more than ever, we are very excited for this partnership and what it means for our community,” Jason Bauer, system director of Food Services at CoxHealth. “We are looking forward to helping provide our patients and employees with locally grown food that will benefit their health.”
In addition to the food production, the farm will benefit the greater Springfield area in specific ways through three separate USDA grants awarded to Springfield Community Gardens totaling $1,644,980. In addition to the farm at Cox South, the funding will support projects in progress at The Fairbanks and Schweitzer United Methodist Church.
- $597,918 comes from National Institute of Food and
Agriculture for a beginning farmer program. This program seeks to address
the needs and enhance the success of young, beginning, and underrepresented
farmers in rural and urban areas of Greene County. The program’s goal is to increase
the number, success, and sustainability of beginning farmers and ranchers in
the U.S., by providing them with knowledge, skills, and tools needed to make
informed decisions and achieve economic success. This grant is tied to award
- $672,457 comes from the USDA Outreach and Assistance for
Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers
program (also known as the 2501 Program). Managed by the Office of Partnerships
and Public Engagement (OPPE), this grant helps provide training, outreach, and
technical assistance to underserved and veteran farmers and ranchers. This
grant is tied to award #AO192501X443G009.
- $374,605 comes from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to foster self-sustaining solutions that help make healthy foods available to families living in low-income neighborhoods. Awarded through the Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program, these projects increase food security in communities by bringing the whole food system together to assess strengths, establish linkages, and create systems to improve the self-reliance of community members. This grant is tied to #2019-33800-30382.
"The integration of food production, public health and the local economy is necessary for our community's quality of life,” says Maile Auterson, co-founder and executive director of SCG. “SCG is committed to creating pathways, such as the hospital farm with our partner CoxHealth, to reach not only neighborhoods with community gardens, but institutions who purchase and serve healthy food to their patients and employees and the farmers who grow it."
The farm is not the first time CoxHealth and Springfield Community Gardens have collaborated for greater community good. There has been a garden at Cox North for several years, and SCG leases space in the hospital’s kitchen.
The farm will be named Amanda Belle’s Farm in honor of Lester E. Cox’s mother, who was known for bringing food to patients in need at the hospital in the early 1900s.
Work on the farm will begin in the coming weeks with the addition of irrigation lines and high tunnels where food will be grown.