Friday, October 17, 2008

Bringing the Farm to the Workplace

GRMC and Grinnell Heritage Farm were featured in a Des Moines Register article this week about our CSA program. (CSA stands for “community supported agriculture.)

Click here to read article

GRMC teamed up with Andrew and Melissa Dunham of Grinnell Heritage Farm to provide hospital employees with a weekly box of fresh vegetables from the farm for up to 17 weeks. While delivering CSA boxes to workplaces isn’t unique to GRMC, the fact that GRMC invested upfront in the CSA is new. In order for the farm to make plans for the growing season and pay for the costs associated with planting, shareholders need to pay in advance for the share. GRMC recognized that writing a check for $400 would likely be a barrier to many employees, so the medical center paid the upfront cost and allowed employees to pay us back through payroll deduction. By doing what we can to help employees focus on their health and wellness, GRMC has healthier employees and our health insurance usage has decreased.

I’ve enjoyed getting my weekly box this spring and summer. There have been several new things I have tried that I might not have picked up in the grocery store and things in the box that are simply not available through a retail store. As one of our employees said in the article, it is like having a garden without having to do the work. Our weekly share ended last week and I’ll have to get used to buying my produce in the grocery store again. I’m already looking forward to next year.

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent GRMC’s positions, strategies, or opinions.


Anonymous said...

What a great idea. Offering fresh produce in this convenient way shows that you care about your employees, local growers and the earth!

I am a MHA student at Walden University. Thanks to our instructor, Sally Lorbach, who shared your hospital link with us, I will look for a way to bring the farm to our hospital. Do you have pointers? How did this get started at Grinnell?

Sally P.

Todd C. Linden said...

Hi Sally,

There are many hospitals and other businesses across the country who are doing similar programs. What makes us unique is that the hospital offered payroll deduction for our employees. Having to pay the fee up front, around $400 for a full share for the season, was a barrier for many of our staff. The hospital paid the cost of the share to the grower and then over the course of the year, employees deduct what they owe back to the medical center. We understand that this is a pretty unique approach for any business-based CSA like ours.
We began by considering a weekly farmer's market at the hospital for employees. It became clear that the better approach for both the grower and consumer was to go the CSA route.

Good luck on your efforts!