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Health Center Takes Medicine Outside

PHOTO: Families tending to garden. The Family HealthCare Network's Woodlake facility now includes a community garden that's bringing the community together to address health, promote nutrition and increase physical activity. Photo Courtesy: Family HealthCare Network
PHOTO: Families tending to garden. The Family HealthCare Network's Woodlake facility now includes a community garden that's bringing the community together to address health, promote nutrition and increase physical activity. Photo Courtesy: Family HealthCare Network
August 2, 2013

TULARE COUNTY, Calif. – A Central Valley community health center is taking its medicine outside.

When the Family HealthCare Network expanded its Woodlake facility in May, it set aside a portion of the land for a community garden.

Marisol de la Vega Cardoso, director of the network’s business development, says the idea was to go beyond the four walls of a typical health care center.

"The vision was to bring community members together to address health, promote nutrition,” she says, “and also promote physical activity in the community through this garden."

The garden is completely organic, and currently eight families have adopted plots that they maintain.

De la Vega Cardoso says one thing the network didn't anticipate was how much children would take an interest. The local YMCA already has adopted one garden plot.

"They learn about gardening and fresh fruits and vegetables,” she says, “that you don't just go to a store and you pick them out, but that they come from something, and how you grow them."

De la Vega Cardosa says research has found the community environment has a huge impact on how people live and their quality of life.

"The patient-centered health home model is beyond just that one-on-one interaction between the provider and the patient,” she maintains. “The community garden is a correct tie to that environmental approach to addressing health."

Family HealthCare Network is a federally qualified health center that operates 16 locations in
Tulare and Kings counties.





Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA