Farmers Market -Sort of - Comes to Your Office Door
Businesses support local farmers as they prepare for growing season
The growing season provides opportunities for organizations to start or enhance wellness programs by making it easier for employees to have access to healthy foods.
Fresh vegetables and fruit; meat, eggs, cheese and bread can be delivered to businesses through CSAs â€“ or community supported agriculture. That refers to a venture in which individuals or businesses pre-order to buy a â€śshareâ€ť from a local farmer.
It is growing in popularity among employees.
â€śMore than 125 of our employees recently expressed interest in having a farmers market program at the office for the convenience of getting weekly produce delivered to our organization. Since I didnâ€™t know much about CSAs, I am grateful to have access to the resources from the Douglas County Health Department, Partners for a Healthy City and WELCOM to get our CSA program started,â€ť said Lori Thomas, wellness coordinator at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Nebraska.
Aaron Johnson, project designer at Lamp, Rynearson and Associates, encouraged his organization to add the farmers market idea to its wellness program last summer. He said the experience was great for employees and his family.
â€śWhen a unique-looking vegetable arrived in my weekly produce bag, it reminded me of my grandmother. I used to eat kohlrabis from her garden but hadnâ€™t tasted one in a long time, and I remembered how much I loved to eat them,â€ť said Johnson.
Each week, CSA members receive a bag of produce, eggs, cheese, meat or bread (depending on the type of share purchased). Each bag also comes with recipe ideas for preparing the items. Depending on the selected program, the food arrives either at your office or a nearby designated pick-up location.
â€śWhen businesses implement a CSA, it is a tremendous way to build a healthy culture in your organization, support local agriculture and show that you care about the health of your employees and their families,â€ť said Laura Feyerherm, project coordinator for Partners for a Health City, in collaboration with the Douglas County Health Department and the Wellness Council of the Midlands (WELCOM).
Thomas said employees who participate in wellness programs are more productive and happy both at work and at home.
â€śWe have noticed that employees are healthier and more engaged in their life. The addition of a CSA not only adds immense value to our wellness programs but also gives back to the community,â€ť she added.
CSA programs are just one of the resources available to organizations through the Partners for a Healthy City effort, in partnership with the Live Well Omaha: Douglas County Putting Prevention to Work initiative.
â€śIn addition to bringing in locally grown food, CSAs provide critical support to local farmers who benefit from the upfront commitment that helps them invest in seeds, equipment and labor,â€ť said Amy Yaroch, Ph.D., Executive Director, Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition.
Thatâ€™s why staff of the Partners for a Healthy City initiative wants to encourage businesses to consider signing up for a CSA. Vouchers are available to help offset the cost of the CSA shares.
The Douglas County Health Department encourages individuals to talk to their employer or organization about their interest in CSAs.
For many farmers, the deadline to sign up for CSAs is March 30th. If your company wants assistance in joining a CSA, contact Laura Feyerherm, Partners for a Healthy City, at 402-934-5795.
You also can learn more at www.partnersforahealthycity.org