This post was contributed by Kim Kirkbride:
The New River Health District has partnered with Virginia Cooperative Extension and the Family Nutrition Program to take its WIC Garden program to a new level. A second WIC Garden, aptly named the Farmacy Garden, opens this summer in Montgomery County, in downtown Christiansburg on the premises of the Montgomery County Health and Human Services Building, 210 S. Pepper St.
The Farmacy Garden is both literally and figuratively central to collaboration among various agencies in Montgomery County serving low-income families and individuals. Situated between the Health Department, Department of Social Services, and the Community Health Center of the New River Valley (formerly known as the New River Valley Free Clinic), the Farmacy garden will serve as a hub of healthy programming for families. A Carillion Family Practice office is just a two minute walk from the garden as well.
In addition to serving WIC clients by allowing them the opportunity to take home fresh vegetables and to learn gardening skills, the garden will seek participants from local health centers with a Garden Prescription Program. Doctors at the Community Health Center of the NRV and Carillion Family Practice will be “prescribing” visits to the garden for patients that meet certain income requirements and are living with lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes. The goal of the Garden Prescription Program is to emphasize the importance of diet and moderate physical activity as vital components in a patient’s wellness plan. Doctors will recommend patients to the program and put them in contact with the project coordinators. This “prescription” model is based off of the Fruit and Veggie Rx program pioneered by Wholesome Wave.
Project coordinators Kim Kirkbride, New River Health District, Meredith Ledlie-Johnson, Family Nutrition Program and Kelli Scott, Virginia Cooperative Extension, will be staffing the garden to guide participants. No prior gardening experience is necessary for clients to join. The garden is meant to be a space of growth and learning. Participants in the Farmacy’s Garden Prescription Program will be introduced to the program with an orientation to the garden and a free sample of fresh vegetables to take home. Participants will work with a volunteer or coordinator to choose one of four levels of involvement in the garden:
- GardenShare: garden labor earns participants fresh vegetables weekly
- Cooking classes: demonstrating how to cook with fresh veggies from the garden
- Weekly Walking Club meeting at the garden.
- Weekly e-newsletter on healthy eating and living.
Each option runs for six weeks and the participant is welcome to sign up again at the conclusion of their series.
If you would like to support the Farmacy Garden, we are currently looking for volunteers to help staff the garden. Volunteers with basic gardening experience and ability to welcome and work with participants are preferred. For more information about volunteering contact Meredith Ledlie-Johnson: (540)-231-1704, firstname.lastname@example.org or Kim Kirkbride: (540) 745-2663, Kimberly.email@example.com.
Kim Kirkbride works as the WIC Garden Coordinator for the Virginia Department of Health. In this role she serves the New River Valley in southwestern Virginia.