Northwell, Queens County Farm Museum announce community collaborative to promote health and wellness through farming and agriculture
On National Farmer’s Day on October 12, which pays tribute to the hardworking farmers around the country at the height of the harvest season, Northwell Health and Queens County Farm Museum have announced a new community collaborative and strategic alliance to advance health priorities, including healthy eating and access to healthy food in an effort to curb diabetes, obesity, cancer and improve maternal and mental health while serving economically disadvantaged and minoritized communities across the greater New York region.
This unprecedented five-year collaboration between the Queens County Farm Museum, which showcases 325 years of farming through educational programming, public events, its farmstand program and local food work, and Northwell, New York State’s largest private employer and health care provider, is a strategic alliance that will help instill healthy values for New Yorkers while providing opportunities for the next generation of New Yorkers to work and learn from both historic institutions.
“Northwell Health and Queens County Farm Museum have been jointly working together over the past three years developing this health and wellness program. Its scope and scale is unprecedented for our organizations,” said Jennifer Walden Weprin, executive director of the Queens County Farm Museum. “Programmatically, we can deeply affect change together for communities in need. Our work together begins now.”
Four key pillars of this new strategic alliance include:
• Access to agriculture through education: Queens Farm and Northwell will create co-branded educational programming and materials on site at Queens Farm and across Northwell’s proximate entities to strengthen the public’s connection to healthy food and healthy eating. Queens County Farm Museum’s 500,000 annual visitors along with the entire Northwell community of patients and employees and their families will be served by this partnership in addition to those who want to access the resources virtually.
• Farm-to-Table: Northwell will procure farm fresh food from Queens County Farm Museum for its patients and staff to reinforce healthy eating. Interfacing with Northwell’s innovative patient services, Queens Farm will provide recipes, cooking demos and tastings to compliment this work, creating a holistic experience around healthy food for the Northwell community at large.
• Volunteer and apprenticeship-based opportunities: The Northwell Health Community Scholars Program will give high school and college students access to the 47-acre working farm. In addition, a new Student Ambassador program will be created as a service-based model of agricultural training for high school and college students. This program will cultivate future leaders, advocates and a green workforce.
• All new sensory experience program: The program will be developed with Zucker Hillside Hospital in Queens and Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park for Queens Farm as an extension of Northwell’s award-winning Bee Mindful Program to serve children with autism and other disabilities, supporting the development of their social-emotional and independent living skills and self-awareness through seeing, smelling, feeling, tasting and working at Queens Farm.
“This collaboration enables Northwell Health to expand access to healthy food programs, educate our communities on eating healthy and being fit while providing additional opportunities for our youth from economically disadvantaged backgrounds,” said Debbie Salas-Lopez, MD, senior vice president of Community and Population Health at Northwell. “Northwell recognizes that health equity is important to maintaining healthy communities and access to nutritious food plays a foundational role.”
This new community collaborative is launching during a busy fall season for both institutions. At Queens County Farm Museum, visitors are enjoying the Amazing Maize Maze, historic farmhouse tours, School-to-Farm Education program and free site admission to the annual Harvest Weekends that will soon benefit from Northwell’s presence at the Farm. Northwell’s programs include: Wellness on Wheels, which educates kids PreK-4 grade on eating fruits and vegetables, and the Northwell Community Scholars Program, a high school pipeline to college program will soon have expanded educational opportunities at Queens County Farm Museum.
This collaboration comes at a time when there is renewed focus on health and wellness program and sustainability initiatives as New York grows toward a greener and healthier place to live, work and raise a family.
For more information on Northwell Health, please visit www.northwell.edu. For more information on Queens County Farm Museum, please visit www.queensfarm.org.