Wellness brings Farm Fresh Produce to Work

By Lynn McCain | September 20 2023

Physiopedia defines Wellness as an active lifestyle that incorporates several components that affect health (physical, mental, and social wellbeing) on a holistic level. In the Michigan Medicine Department of Pathology, wellness is taken seriously. In fact, the department has an assistant chair for wellness, Dr. Maria Westerhoff, who also leads an active wellness committee. One of the many initiatives Westerhoff and her committee has launched is the weekly distribution of free farm-fresh produce to members of the department. This idea was the brainchild of Tracy Rocco, a member of the wellness committee, who then coordinated the successful launch with funding by the department’s wellness fund. Partnering with two local Produce ready for distribution at University Hospitalfarms, Bakers Acres (#bakersacresdexter) and A&B Acres, Westerhoff has coordinated these distributions to take place every week during the growing season at both the University Hospital and the North Campus Research Complex.

The partnering farms were selected based on their owners being part of our Pathology family. Christine Baker, Lead Project Manager for the Pathology Relocation and Renovation project, is an owner of Bakers Acres in Dexter, Michigan. Jodi Mullet, who retired from Pathology, is an owner of A&B Acres in Manchester, Michigan. Together, they bring in loads of tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, onions, squash, cabbage, broccoli, and more each week for their colleagues.

“The first time we brought in produce, it was gone in minutes,” said Baker. “The next week, we doubled the amount that was brought in, and it was Pathology employees eagerly claim their vegetables at the NCRC.eagerly taken by member of Pathology.” It has created a respite from work with a farmer’s market-type atmosphere in the middle of the day for faculty and staff alike. Baker loves hearing stories about how her produce was used in recipes. Some have even sent her photos of the recipes they have made. “We have had a very productive year for our produce; it is so good to be able to see it being enjoyed and not going to waste.” Her farm has been so productive, in fact, that she has brought in even more vegetables than contracted just to be sure they were eaten and wouldn’t sit and spoil.

“I appreciate the opportunity to bring my produce in for my former colleagues in Pathology,” stated Mullet. “There is something special about
 knowing both how the produce was grown and that it is going to those you Tabouleh - Paul Ward.jpgworked with.” Pathology employees also enjoy these times to get fresh produce, straight from farm to table. “I grow some of my own vegetables and combined those with the ones Laura gets through the produce distribution. I’ve made Texas cowboy caviar, tabbouleh, salads, and more,” stated Paul Ward (#paulwardlr), husband of Dr. Laura Lamps. As summer draws to an end, this is one weekly event we will all miss!



Photos courtesy of Christine Baker and Paul Ward