Written by Melissa Waldron
New Haven, CT - To the average observer, the site in the photo might look like an uninhabitable, barren moon-scape vacant lot but to us at New Haven Farms, it’s a gorgeous, mouth-watering, hunka-hunka piece o’ land that is due to become the next New Haven Farms site!
Welcome to Phoenix Pharm!
On a humid Sunday July afternoon, almost 50 volunteers from the Manhattan based non-profit, Global Health Corps came out to help NHF clean up what was then a weed strewn area on the Phoenix Press property at 15 James Street in Fair Haven. Phoenix Press is a long time family owned and operated printing company and is New Haven Farms’ dedicated printer. Having reached their goal after a mere three years to be the greenest commercial printer in the US, Phoenix Press is recognizable by the wind turbine between its office and the Quinnipiac River, from which Phoenix can harness 100kw of wind energy. Our farm site, or Pharm site [as Cassidy Metcalfe, our co-farm manager calls it] will be directly under this wind turbine. Phoenix Press was kind enough to offer us this space months ago but it is only now that we have had the capacity to begin to build there.
For those of you that haven’t heard of New Haven Farms, we recently launched The New Haven Farms’ Fresh Produce Prescription Program, which seeks to provide a community based solution to the problem of obesity and poverty related chronic-disease factors. Members who fit the health-risk and economic criteria are enrolled in a 16-week nutrition and farm education program and receive fresh and organic farm produce baskets on a weekly basis. Members are also required to attend at least one two-hour on-farm educational session per week for the duration of the season.
Last year, the Global Health Corps folks volunteered their time to get our first farm site off the ground. Now they are here to help us launch our fifth. Each summer, GHC participants travel to New Haven to participate in a two week fellowship seminar training program at Yale University. Monique Centrone Stefani, our Steering Committee member who is leading the research team, gave a talk at Yale recently about her data work on measurements and outcomes of our nutritional education program.
Monique explains her work: “Research on New Haven Farms will seek to establish the relationship between household food security (not having enough food to eat), diabetes risk and participation in urban agriculture. We want to establish first that we can help low-income urban residents to eat more fruits and vegetables by participating in a low-cost CSA and combined nutrition/farm education program. With that in place, we hope to see a reduction in risk factors for obesity, such as BMI or body mass index.”
Eric Sun, the program intern, commented that “without Monique’s speech, maybe a handful of students would have participated, but her talk about her research was so inspiring, we all had to come and lend a hand.”
Global Health Corps aims to mobilize a global community of emerging leaders to build the movement for health equity. Half of the fellows are American and half are from around the rest of the world. Each American partners with an international fellow and they are stationed in Washington DC, New Jersey, New York and also travel as far as Africa to partnering countries such as Uganda, Burundi, Malawi, and Zambia.
Robinson, for instance, is from Uganda and works with statistics and monetary evaluations of businesses in his homeland, partnering with the Infectious Disease Institute inKampala. He comes from a family of farmers and is very proud to talk about his family’s crops which include jack fruit, cassava and plantains, which they use for their favorite dish, matoke. He says he is very excited to be part of this day’s farm work and is looking forward to taking back all the knowledge he has accumulated through GHC to his home country soon. We wish him well.