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Have a 'berry' good time at UMMC's Farmer's Market

Published on Monday, April 2, 2018

By: Ruth Cummins

There will be a strawberry field Tuesday at the Medical Center, but it won’t last forever.

The sweet fruit should be a hot item at the quarterly Farmer’s Market brought to campus by UMMC Everyday Wellness. Cooper Farms of Morton once again will showcase its wares from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. in the Clinical Sciences walkway.

The market is increasing in popularity among employees at the same time Everyday Wellness is building a “recognizable, changing culture of well-being,” said Brea Cole, manager of medically integrated wellness programs in the Department of Preventive Medicine.

“Just this morning, people in the elevator with me were saying how excited they are that the market is coming back,” said Cole, one of the campus Wellness Champions. “We want to give people easy access to produce while they’re at work to take home to their families, so they won’t have to go to the store after work or on their lunch hour.

UMMC employees line up for a chance to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at the June 2017 Farmer's Market.

“It’s for convenience, and it’s to encourage students and employees to purchase fresh produce,” she said.

And, it’s so much more.

“One of our target areas is physical health and fitness, and physical health includes good nutrition,” Cole said. “We want people to eat better and to get more physical exercise so that they can feel better.”

Preventive Medicine and Everyday Wellness also are conducting healthy lifestyle programs that include diabetes prevention, diabetes education empowerment and chronic disease self-management, Cole said. “We touch on healthy eating in all of those. It ties it all together.”

Cooper Farms, located eight miles south of Morton in Scott County, is owned by Tim Cooper.

He’d bet the farm that strawberries will be the day’s hot seller. “As far as the others, tomatoes sell really well, and boiled peanuts usually go fast,” he said.

People crave traditional vegetables after a winter laden with greens, Cooper said. “Right now, people want the summer stuff. We will have kale, but that will be about the only greens we’ll have on Tuesday,” he said.

Cash, checks and debit, credit and EBT cards will be accepted on Tuesday. At least several hundred employees tend to weave through the fruit and veggie bins.

“This is also social wellness,” Cole said. “Everybody goes together to the market.”

Here’s what’s springing up at Tuesday’s market:

Apples, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, cucumbers, honey, kale, leeks, muscadine juice and jelly, oranges, red potatoes, rutabagas, snap beans, squash, strawberries, sweet onions, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and boiled peanuts.