Roasted beet salad, fresh local spinach and scallions sound like menu details from an upscale restaurant. They're what's new this spring at the cafeteria of Takoma Regional Hospital in Greeneville, Tennessee. Chef Mary Goldman is excited to include some fresh, local produce for the first time this year. A chef getting a say over wholesale food orders for her kitchen is harder than it sounds. "There were some bureaucratic roadblocks we had to go through," Goldman admits. It was the soft sell approach that finally won over hospital executives. Goldman just happened to include an abundant pick of the local spinach crop when the hospital was holding a special community luncheon. Goldman stressed to decision makers that serving fresher foods would fit well with the hospital's emphasis on wellness. "I said, 'look this is what we could be serving in the cafeteria.'"
The farm fresh foods now being served at the hospital come mostly from a unique Mobile Farmers' Market run by Rural Resources. The weekly picks are available not only to industry clients like the hospital, but to individuals and families. On the morning that I caught up with Market Manager Rhonda Hensley, she was busily driving her route through Greeneville. Hensley steers a converted short schoolbus painted like a red barn and sells community supported agriculture or CSA baskets directly to customers who've preordered.
At one customer pickup site, a married mother of two is excited to try the program for the first time. "It's hard to find organic around Greeneville," the mother says. She's paying $25 for a half-bushel family share basket that this week includes beets so fresh you could eat the leafy tops too, vine-ripened strawberries, dill, radishes, eggs from free range hens and more.
Kathy Kolb picks up her CSA basket
Kathy Kolb is picking up a cash CSA basket because she's decided to eat vegetarian, and this fits into her eating plan. She read about the Mobile Farmers' Market in the newspaper. "I'll be staying with this through the summer, 'cause I've been waiting on vegetables to come out." Baskets start at just $15.
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