The Farm-Based Wellness Program demonstrates how participation in growing food, cooking and nutrition education, and behavior change interventions positively impact the health, social capital, and food security of individuals diagnosed with or at risk for diet-related health conditions.
The program is a partnership between Gather New Haven and health centers in New Haven that care for the city’s most medically underserved community members, including: Fair Haven Community Health Center, HAVEN Free Clinic, and Cornell Scott-Hill Health Center. These health centers deliver a full spectrum of medical services to over 50,000 New Haven residents, the majority of whom face diet-related, chronic disease risks and economic hardship.
Healthcare providers from these institutions refer low-income, adult patients with diet-related, chronic disease risk factors to the Farm-Based Wellness Program. During the summer growing season, these referred patients and their families come weekly to a 2-hour program session including cooking demonstrations, nutrition classes, and gardening lessons.
Each week, participants take home shares of fresh vegetables and fruits grown on Gather New Haven farm sites along with culturally relevant recipes that build upon a foundation of knowledge for improving their health. Children of participants are invited to attend a simultaneous Youth Farm-Based Wellness activities, where they participate in gardening, cooking, environmental, and nutrition education designed specifically for them.
The intensive program runs during the summer for a total of 16 weeks on Tuesday and Thursday evenings behind our Ferry Street farm (220 English St., New Haven, CT 06513). Tuesday sessions are conducted in Spanish and Thursdays from 5:30pm-7:30pm are offered in English as an effort to create broader, more equitable access to the program. A Monday and Wednesday group physical activity class is offered bilingually during the summer for participants who wish to engage in physical activities led by a NASM certified physical trainer from 5:30pm -6:30pm.
After the intensive summer program, a monthly meeting is offered throughout the off-months, to keep participants encouraged and engaged with a community of support.