CoxHealth is partnering with Springfield Community Gardens to plant five acres of vegetables and fruit on about 27 acres of land it owns to the west of Ferrell Duncan Clinic on E. Primrose.
The project will feature two high tunnels at first with plans to eventually have five on the site.
Food grown on the acreage will be served to patients in the hospital and to those who visit the CoxHealth cafeteria. CoxHealth’s system director of Food Services, Jason Bauer, said employees will be able to sign up for a Community Supported Agriculture program and take produce home.
"Any of the food that's grown can be bought by our employees," said Bauer, at a good rate, obviously, and so it's organic, and they can just walk across the street and get it."
The health system is working on a food pharmacy, he said. Physicians will write prescriptions for fruits and vegetables, and patients will be able to get that food at the farm.
SCG director and co-founder, Maile Auterson, hopes the farm will help with chronic disease prevention.
"We really have to think about food as medicine," she said.
The farm is being funded initially with grant money from the United States Department of Agriculture, according to Bauer. It will have two full-time employees, and any profits made will go back into the operation. Volunteers will also work at the farm.
It will be named Amanda Belle’s Farm in honor of Lester E. Cox’s mother.
SCG and Cox have worked together already. SCG has a garden at Cox North and leases space in the hospital’s kitchen.