AMI Farm at Augusta Health
Starting in 2018, Augusta Health partnered with Allegheny Mountain Institute (AMI) to develop a sustainable production farm utilizing sustainable practices on Augusta Health’s campus. The purpose of the farm is threefold:
- to provide locally grown produce for use by Sodexo in our food system, to be served to our patients, employees, and community visitors
- to create a nutrition education hub for the community to teach sustainable agriculture practices
- to offer nutrient-dense food solutions to community members with chronic disease diagnosis or low food access
The AMI Farm at Augusta Health offers a production farm and community venue for healthy food and nutrition education. Collaborating with Allegheny Mountain Institute allows Augusta Health to continue to achieve its mission of promoting the well-being of our community through access to excellent care by providing access to nutrient-dense foods. The AMI Farm at Augusta Health empowers our patients, employees, and community visitors to make healthful food choices.
What do we grow?
By emulating natural systems, the AMI Farm at Augusta Health aims to be a good steward of the land and our resources. Our sustainable farming practices are guided by a deep reverence for the natural world – emphasizing biodiversity while protecting watersheds and replenishing the health and vitality of the precious soils that sustain us.
Utilizing an on-site greenhouse, a high tunnel, and two cat tunnels, we grow forty-eight varieties of nutrient-dense vegetables and herbs.
Where does the food go?
In 2021, the AMI Farm at Augusta Health harvested 30,054 pounds of nutrient-dense vegetables for the following initiatives:
Food Farmacy is a prescription produce program in which patients with diet-related chronic health conditions complicated by barriers to healthy food access are referred to a 12-week course. Participants enjoy health education classes taught by physicians, dietitians, and health educators. Each class is accompanied by cooking demonstrations led by Augusta Health’s chefs and participants receive a weekly voucher to purchase freshly harvested vegetables. Each participant selects sufficient produce to supply their entire household for the duration of the program.
Crop to Community
We use Social Determinants of Health screening to identify patients with barriers to accessing food. These patients are provided with weekly home delivery of seasonal produce, plus fresh eggs and meats from other local farmers. Recipes and produce guides accompany each delivery. Fresh produce boxes are delivered to fifty patients bi-weekly.
Home Health Produce
Individuals who are either hospice patients or homebound patients with intensive health needs are offered a weekly box of produce. Nurses deliver boxes of freshly harvested vegetables to 60 households in Staunton and Augusta County. Each box is brimming with 5-6 varieties and is often accompanied by fresh flowers and a recipe.
Blue Ridge Areas Food Bank
Augusta Health’s Community Benefit implementation strategy prioritizes distributing fresh produce to community members to increase food security. Vegetables are delivered to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank’s participating Healthy Pantries to increase clients’ access to fresh, local, and organically grown produce.
Augusta Health Campus
Vegetables are integrated into the Augusta Health campus through the cafeteria, catering programs, and patient meals. Vegetables are also sold through a farm stand and Community Supported Agriculture shares to hospital staff.
How can I get involved?
Community education is central to the mission of the AMI Farm at Augusta Health. In addition to the education that accompanies the programs listed above, AMI staff offer a number of workshops and webinars for the public. Topics range from home gardening to understanding the food system, confident cooking with fresh produce, and understanding the health benefits of a plant-rich diet. All health information is taught in collaboration with the Augusta Health staff.
Plans are being developed to build a demonstration garden and renovate the on-site farmhouse for classes and cooking demonstrations.
Volunteers are welcome on the farm!