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Garden helps patients harvest better health

Note: In our effort to make Azara’s blog cover the diverse range of issues that affect our clients, we hope to highlight interesting approaches our health center clients take to keep their communities healthy – not just their successes with DRVS and data analytics. In this spirit, I call your attention to this post by Lori Lynes, one of our implementation specialists. Lori was so impressed with the community garden project created by one of our newest clients, she returned eager to share her experience. I think this is a great example of a health center thinking “outside the exam room” and putting into practice alternative ways to make a difference for their patients.

Jeff Brandes, President and CEO

How did the team at Bridge Community Health Clinic in Wausau, WI help a patient lower her high A1c when nothing else had worked? They rented her a bed in Wausau Urban Community Gardens, located adjacent to the healtGarden beds - generalh center.

The center’s project rents garden beds to patients and Wausau community members during the growing season. The center initially did not charge for the beds and it left them largely neglected. Bridge Community added a nominal $5 per season fee and it has improved garden maintenance.

To accommodate gardeners with limited mobility, the center installed large Lazy Susans that increase accessibility to the ground. Kiddie pool gardens are located on top.
Local businesses donate seeds and plants.

ToolsGarden tools are provided for everyone’s use. When signing up for the garden, the gardeners agree to return tools to their proper storage place.

Roof water runoff is collected in two
large rain barrels and used for watering the gardens.

Passersby drop in to help weed when they notice a garden needs a little TLC. Pulled garden weeds are placed in a compost pile; new soil is added to the gardens each year.

What is a garden without bees to pollinate it? This year two beehives were added to the gardens. Honey sales profits can cover the garden’s costs for a year. Gardening isn’t the only thing that happens in the garden: Periodically, free yoga classes are held; all skill levels are welcome.


A local restaurant rented a bed so that it could add same-day picked produce to its menu.

Surplus produce is donated to the local food bank. Gardeners are also encouraged to donate.

Patients aren’t the only ones eating healthier. Health center staff members trade recipes that can be made with the garden’s crop. Young children in search of butterflies run through the garden and eat tomatoes they pick directly off the vine.

Meanwhile, the patient with the out-of-control A1c has become an active gardner, is eating healthy garden-grown foods, and has significantly improved A1c levels.

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