Ebenezer Medical Outreach Inc. understands the path to a healthy future begins with the choices their patients make today. These choices can help impact future health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. To assist in providing better options for their patients, the non-profit clinic began participating in “Farmacy,” which began in Wheeling, West Virginia, in 2016. The Farmacy program is a prescription to wellness which assists in providing weekly access to fresh food. Along with receiving fresh produce and herbs grown directly in West Virginia, patients are also taught recipes while attending nutrition classes taught by WVU Extension. The fifteen-week series not only promotes healthier lifestyles, but it has also proven to be an immediate relief in solving food insecurity.

To provide long term sustainability to the Farmacy program, Ebenezer Medical Outreach Inc. partnered with Unlimited Future Inc.’s NeighborFood Eco-System as part of a collaborative effort. This has resulted in the construction of EMO’s “Unity” Community Garden. The garden is designed as one component in a system of simultaneous producing community gardens located across the Fairfield area. Over the last few decades, the historic community has experienced the depletion of their local neighborhood grocery stores. This has left a need for access to fresh produce.

Throughout last year in conjunction with Unlimited Future Inc., Ebenezer Medical Outreach participated in Community Pop-Up Markets. Starting in May through October, the food produced in the community gardens were distributed back into the neighborhood. Starting at 8 a.m. until noon, residents were welcome to a farmer’s market selection. These events grew larger each month. By the end of summer and early fall, all produce would be distributed by 9:30 a.m. The pop-up markets also saw another Appalachian tradition come alive. Many local residents attending began sharing recipes in coordination with produce available.

This year, EMO is coordinating with their upcoming 2023 Farmacy program and medically indicated food box distributions to supplement garden giveaways. All produce grown in the Unity Garden has the combined goals to help combat food insecurity and chronic disease. Sometimes, a healthy future requires access to healthy food. This year, the clinic has already planted herbs, tomatoes, snap peas, potatoes and one green bed filled with leafy salad choices. Along with vegetables, the clinic has added six fruit trees, two blueberry bushes, and a melon bed.

Ebenezer Medical Outreach Inc. has a commitment and together with help from volunteers and partners, they are ready to grow in 2023!

By: Rachel E. Bledsoe