Gardening IS Healthcare

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by Katie Rains, GRuB Executive Director

When you think of healthcare, do you think of appointments, waiting rooms, insurance, and huge bills? If you do, you are certainly not alone. I worked in healthcare for a long time and I think it’s fair to say that most Americans conjure those same ideas when they think about their healthcare. The thing is though, that here at GRuB, I still work in healthcare, and personally, I think that both individuals and our community as a whole are healthier as a result of GRuB’s work.

When young people and low-income families get their hands dirty in the garden by engaging with GRuB’s programs, they are having a transformative experience that can redefine their sense of health and well-being. Fresh air, physical activity, a sense of connection to a growing garden – these things all have indisputable health benefits. The sense of empowerment and pride, not to mention the nutritional value, that can come from preparing & sharing meals that you’ve actually grown yourself also have meaningful impact in an individuals overall health. And by bringing people together around food and agriculture, GRuB has infused excitement about healthy food and a sense of shared purpose into our community.

Nearly 50 years ago, a physician who founded one of the first community health centers in the country started prescribing food- whole, fresh food- to his patients who were experiencing malnutrition. We can now aptly describe malnutrition as a key cause of some of our country’s biggest health issues, things like childhood obesity, heart disease, diabetes, even depression. Today, almost half a century after this pioneer doctor starting prescribing food to get to the root of the problem, GRuB is proud to be part of growing movement of good food organizations working to partner with health professionals, like our good friends at Olympia Pediatrics who put in a GRuB garden at their office this year, and Thurston County Public Health, who is convening a collaborative county-wide initiative called “Thurston Thrives.” In partnership with our network of GRuBbers, our youth crew, our KGP gardeners, and our healthcare partners, we hope to contribute to a culture of health & wellness & thriving community.

If your idea of a good time is watching TED talks (okay, I admit it! That’s MY idea of a good time.), you should check out Rebecca Onie’s talk, “What if our healthcare system kept us healthy?” It’ll give you some food for thought. And I hope that if you weren’t already thinking of it this way, that from this day on, when you step into your garden, or into your kitchen to prepare something that you’ve harvested, that you pat yourself on the back. You’ve just been a meaningful contributor to your own healthcare by growing your medicine (Good fair food!) and you’ve lived part of the transformation that will allow our community to thrive. No appointment required!