Fresh Market Returns to Hospital for This Year’s Growing Season

Farmers sell their fresh, local products at produce at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre Fresh Market every Wednesday during the summer months.
Farmers sell their fresh, local products at produce at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre Fresh Market every Wednesday during the summer months.

The seasonally popular Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) Fresh Market returned for this year’s growing season on June 24th. The TBRHSC Fresh Market is an onsite farmers’ market, hosted in the courtyard beside Flavours Cafeteria throughout the summer and early fall months, featuring several local farmers and their fresh produce and products.

Now in its fourth year, the TBRHSC Fresh Market’s popularity continues to exceed expectations in terms of attendance numbers, satisfaction, and healthy eating promotions. “Overall, we are really happy with the success of the Fresh Market here at TBRHSC,” says Julia Bailey, who coordinates the market as part of Prevention and Screening Services at TBRHSC. “In 2013 we had more than 2,700 visitors attend the market and last year we had more than 3,000. The numbers are impressive, but what makes the market worthwhile for us is the positive feedback from staff, who started asking when the market starts months ago, and the smiles it puts on patients’ faces when they see the farmers and fresh produce.”

In addition to expanding the number of weeks that the market is available on site at TBRHSC to 16 weeks, Bailey and other coordinators have also made more seasonal recipes and healthy eating resources available and partnered with Flavours Cafeteria to offer more locally-inspired meals in the cafeteria. “One of the greatest strengths of our market is our focus on healthy eating and healthy living education. We like to provide seasonal recipes to inspire people to try new food, that is available locally, and even new cooking techniques and ideas. It also helps that our cafeteria at TBRHSC is so supportive. In the past, the farmers have partnered with our cafeteria to provide produce and products for locally inspired meals, as well as recipes so people can try to reproduce the meal in their own kitchen.”

The notion of the hospital promoting healthy eating and providing an outlet for that to occur onsite sends a positive message to our community. “Even though we’re an acute care hospital, and most people see us as a treatment facility, we still have a role to play in the prevention and management of chronic disease in our region. We need to role model healthy lifestyles, and the market is a great way to do that,” says Kelly-Jo Gillis, Manager of Preventive Health Services at TBRHSC.

Those who attend the Fresh Market, can expect to see the following farmers with their seasonal produce or products on a regular basis:

Brule Creek Farms: stone milled flour, baking mixes, and canola oil

Kuchta Honey Farm: honey and bees wax

Mile Hill Farms: Fresh seasonal produce from garlic scapes and kale, to sunflowers and beats

Veg-e-tate Market Garden: Lettuce mixes, micro salad, pea shoots, and radishes

Volkar Farms: Fresh seasonal produce from strawberries and cabbage to squash.

Other farmers who attend include: Belluz Farms, Aroland First Nation (blueberries), Root Cellar Gardens, and Mountain Stream Orchards.

The TBRHSC Fresh Market is open to all staff, patients, volunteers, and public. It runs every Wednesday from June 24th to October 24th (with exception to July 1st) between 11:30 am and 1:30 pm.

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
– Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An eater’s Manifesto