City Plants a Farm-2-Work Program
The City of Eau Claire Green Team’s Farm-2-Work program was created to provide an easy way for employees to receive fresh produce delivered directly from a local farmer to the workplace. This pilot program not only helps to make incorporating healthy foods into employees’ meals more convenient, but it also cuts down on the 1,500 miles or so an average U.S. meal takes to reach the dinner table. As an added bonus, participants are reducing energy demand and transportation emissions, all while supporting the local economy.
The Green Team developed the concept by learning from other similar programs and teaming up with the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. Environmental Public Health students researched local community supported agriculture (CSA) farms and developed marketing materials. An online survey was created by the Green Team to gauge interest and seek those who were ready to commit. In the first day the program was offered, it was fully subscribed to and a waiting list had to be developed. Fortunately, the chosen CSA, Breezy Knoll Farm, was able to accommodate the extra shares. Breezy Knoll Farm is a CSA located near Fairchild that uses organic and sustainable farming techniques.
Farm-2-Work got under way in early June with twenty-five employees participating. Subscribers’ boxes of produce are delivered to two worksites: City Hall and the Courthouse. A newsletter is provided by the CSA to help people understand the particular vegetable or herb and how to cook with it using meal recipes. Employees have either elected to purchase a box of produce delivered every week or every other. Deliveries occur on Monday mornings, and empty boxes are returned for next-time use. The program is expected to run from June through October, lasting about eighteen weeks.
The City of Eau Claire hopes this new program will continue its success and help make eating healthy easier for employees. Although the program is voluntary, it complements other health and wellness employee initiatives of the city such as fitness classes, biking challenges, and a health insurance deductible incentive program. The city hopes Farm-2-Work can inspire others in the city, such as schools, the university, and businesses, to start programs of their own. If interested in learning more, individuals are encouraged to contact the city’s Green Team at 715-839-4914.