Blue Mountain Academy Opens Hospital Produce Stand
Story by Dave Morgan
Aaron Weber, the Pennsylvania Conference Blue Mountain Academy’s (BMA) director of operations, reports that the school’s agriculture program has recently impacted the local community like never before. “BMA agriculture was invited to pilot a Farmer’s Market in downtown’s Reading St. Joseph’s Hospital (Pa.),” Weber shares. “On May 1, BMA opened a produce stand in a renovated room close to the hospital’s main entrance. During the growing season—and potentially year-round—they are open each Tuesday from 12:30-5 p.m. Hospital administrators are not only making this produce market available to patients participating in VeggieRx, a healthy food incentive program, but are encouraging staff to shop there and are advertising the stand to the community.”
Weber reinvigorated the agriculture program six years ago, giving students the opportunity to return to BMA’s roots when farmland covered nearly half of the 720 acres. Today you can find greenhouses, outdoor growing plots and even produce and eggs sold at a farm stand.
Weber describes several benefits to the hospital farm market. “It gives students an opportunity to provide health-giving nutrition to community members. Students in the agriculture program see firsthand how their work of growing produce makes a real, positive impact in people’s lives and will hopefully inspire them to continue to pursue agricultural studies,” Weber says. “Students also have the potential to participate in health education by teaching cooking classes, presenting health workshops and more.” For updates, visit facebook.com/bluemountainacademy. And for organic gardening tips this summer, click here.