Farming is literally in Meigs County’s roots. Farming is still one of the leading employers within the county. According to the Ohio State University Extension Program, the agricultural, horticultural, and forestry industries contribute over $100 billion every year to Ohio’s economy.
Farming is not only a lucrative business, but is also an essential factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. After all, farming provides the nutritious produce that establishes the foundation for a healthy diet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults consume at least 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables every day. Thus, without farmers and gardeners our needed food source would be nonexistent.
For this reason, the Creating Healthy Communities (CHC) Program at the Meigs County Health Department (MCHD) is always supportive of local farmers and programs that encourage healthy food production and access. Through the CHC Program, the health department has been able to create several programs that have increased the availability of fresh produce within the county. Through collaborative partnerships MCHD has been able to work with three schools to implement gardens and greenhouses. These greenhouses and gardens have been established at the Mid-Valley Christian School in Middleport and the Carleton School in Syracuse. The Carleton School was also able to receive funding from MCHD that allowed them to implement an orchard of apple and pear trees for staff and students to enjoy. Additionally, a highly utilized school garden was created at the Meigs Local High School. These school gardens have allowed staff and students to partake in the concept derived from the Farm to School Program by allowing this population to grow and consume healthy meals within an academic setting.
In addition to school-based programming, the CHC Program has also been able to create healthy eating projects within community settings as well. In 2018, the CHC Program was able to work with the Meigs County Soil and Water Conservation District to create an edible orchard. The orchard is located at the Soil and Water Conservation Area, and provides free access to healthy fruits and nuts that is open to the public. One of the major CHC healthy eating projects for this year was the establishment of the Meigs County Farmers’ Market (MCFM). The CHC Program spearheaded the MCFM by providing technical assistance, promotion, and funding that amounted to nearly $9,000.00 in order to create a sustainable and productive farmers’ market for the entire county.
The MCFM provides local and nutritious produce every Saturday from 10:00 am-1:00 pm at the Pomeroy Levee. The market is income-friendly in that it currently accepts Senior Farmers’ Market and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) vouchers. Moreover, the MCFM’s board has submitted the application to be able to accept the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits in the near future. The MCFM is also very proud of their farmers in their efforts to address food insecurity within the county. Vendors from the market have been donating their extra produce to the Mulberry Community Kitchen in Pomeroy. These donations allow the volunteers at the kitchen to incorporate fresh local produce into the meals that are prepared each week at an affordable cost. To keep up-to-date on all things MCFM follow their Facebook page and website at www.meigscountyfarmersmarket.com
Farming is so much more than a career, and this is seen every day in Meigs County as farmers and gardeners alike go out of their way to ensure that we have the produce we need to maintain a healthy diet. The MCHD is proud to provide resources that allow farming and gardening to become an appreciated way of life that enables healthy lifestyles for all. If your organization is interested in partnering with the MCHD to address chronic disease prevention through active living and healthy eating projects please considering attending one of the CHC Program’s coalition meetings. There are three coalition meetings left this year. Each meeting is held at the MCHD from 12:00-1:00 pm. The remaining meetings’ dates are: Monday, Oct. 21; Monday, Nov. 18; Monday, Dec. 9.
We hope to see you there. In the meantime, please contact me should you have any questions regarding the CHC Program and our efforts to make Meigs County a healthier community for all. I can be reached at (740) 992-6626 extension 1031 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Ciara Martin is the Creating Healthy Communities project director for the Meigs County Health Department.