Greenhouse and kitchen created to strengthen local food system

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FORT WAYNE, IND. (April 15, 2019) – The Parkview Community Greenhouse and Learning Kitchen, a hub for accessing healthy food and resources, will open to the community with free classes and tours starting in May. The facility was designed to connect area residents with not only fresh produce, but also the information and skills they need to improve their nutrition and overall well-being.

“We recognize the power of fresh, healthy food in disease prevention and health promotion,” said Sarah GiaQuinta, MD, vice president of community health for Parkview Health. “As caregivers, it is critical that we understand the social and environmental influencers of health and wellness within our community. The Parkview Community Greenhouse and Learning Kitchen addresses our patients’ health outside of hospital and clinic walls by providing hands-on education, as well as fresh fruits and vegetables to an area of Fort Wayne where healthy food isn’t easily accessible.”

 The facility, located at 1716 Beacon St., near Parkview Behavioral Health, was built in 2018 in partnership with several community organizations. The location was specifically chosen because 46805 is one of five Fort Wayne zip codes considered to be a food desert. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food deserts are areas where residents lack access to affordable fruits, vegetables and other foods that make up a full and healthy diet.

“We want to connect people to the power of produce, as well as knowledge on how to grow food and prepare meals that are life-sustaining. The hands-on skill building that will occur at this center will be a catalyst for positively impacting the overall health of the community,” said Kathy Wehrle, community outreach dietitian, Parkview Health.

The Community Greenhouse will offer tours starting May 9, with gardening classes available later this summer. The greenhouse will also be used to conduct research and trial different growing techniques. Additionally, it will feature a children’s garden, funded in part by a grant from KidsGardening, a national nonprofit that creates opportunities for kids to play, learn and grow through gardening.

The Learning Kitchen will kick off classes beginning May 7. Classes will include cooking demonstrations and hands-on activities designed to foster the skills needed to select, grow and cook fresh food.

This summer, the facility will host HEAL Farm Markets weekly. The HEAL program – which stands for Healthy Eating, Active Living – is made possible through funding from the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation and Parkview Health. It is the only farmers market in the area to offer a “double up” program, which benefits the underserved by doubling the value of SNAP EBT, WIC and senior vouchers.

All classes and tours are free and open to the public, but advance registration is required. To learn more about the programs or to register for a class or tour, visitparkview.com/growgreen.


This article was contributed by Parkview Health, a not-for-profit, community-based health system serving a Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio population of more than 895,000.