Farmers markets on the campuses of Holy Family Hospital in Methuen and Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack Valley in Haverhill will open to the public in mid-July.
The farmers market at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen (70 East St.) will be on Fridays from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. from July 10 through October 23. This year it will be in a new location on the front lawn of the hospital where it will be more visible and accessible to the public. The market accepts WIC, EBT/SNAP/Food Stamps, senior coupons, cash, credit cards, and Holy Family Hospital Farmers Market vouchers.
The Holy Family Hospital farmers market in Methuen is coordinated by Groundwork Lawrence, and offers produce from Riverdale Farm, Groton, MA, and Groundwork Lawrence’s Green Team, which grows produce at the agency’s urban farm. Also offered at the farmers market are Methuen-based jewelry maker Lenor; gluten-free healthy snacks by GettingFit Goodies, of Salem, NH; Newburyport’s New England Ice Lollies featuring fresh-fruit popsicles; and children’s storyteller Nicolette Nordin at 11 a.m. from July through September.
The farmers market at Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack Valley in Haverhill (140 Lincoln Ave.), will be on Tuesdays from noon- 4 p.m. beginning July 14 and will run through September 8. This year it will be on the Lincoln Avenue side of the building, on the lawn by the bus stop near entrances to the hospital and the medical office building making it visible to visitor of the hospital as well as physician offices.
The market features fresh produce of the award-winning Chris’ Farm stand, of Haverhill and Peabody, MA, which is operated by third-generation farmers. The market accepts WIC, EB/SNAP/Food Stamps, cash, and Holy Family Hospital Farmers Market vouchers.
“Farmers markets on our hospital campuses promote good nutrition, which is preventive medicine for health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease—all of which are prevalent in the communities we serve,” noted hospital president Joseph Roach.
Holy Family Hospital is part of Steward Health Care, which operates 10 hospital campuses in Massachusetts and has a network of over 3,000 physicians in Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire. The hospital’s Community Benefits Program offers vouchers for Massachusetts farmers markets to qualified Holy Family patients.
One such patient is Joyce Rouff of Methuen who can’t wait for the local farmers markets to open this year.
She got hooked on fresh fruits and vegetables two years ago when her physician offered her free vouchers to local farmers markets and she hasn’t looked back. Now she eats fresh produce, and also buys in bulk for better pricing, so she can affordably freeze food and can it for the winter.
Before Joyce discovered farmers markets and there variety of fresh produce, she struggled with her diet which was contributing to weight gain.
Eventually Joyce had bariatric surgery, which helped her lose weight. But a year after her surgery she was still afraid her poor diet would make it impossible to keep weight off, so her bariatric surgeon offered free vouchers to Holy Family Hospital’s farmers markets in Methuen and Haverhill, as well as other local farmers markets.
Joyce lost 163 pounds and has kept it off by eating healthy and nutritious locally grown produce.
Joyce started going to the farmers markets with her partner, Peter Blake, and then they decided to try canning. They began with sugar-free and spicy salsa, then progressed to dill and bread and butter pickles, relish, jellied and whole berry cranberry sauces, strawberry rhubarb jam, orange marmalade, tomato sauce, squash, pickled beets, cauliflower and onions, peaches and apples.
“We canned 102 jars last year,” said Joyce who also bought fresh corn, cut it off the cob and froze it to use in soups, as a side dish and in stir fry recipes. She has peppers, onions and mushrooms portioned in the freezer and ready to go for stir fry. Joyce uses canned peaches and apples for cobbler recipes and gave cranberry sauce to friends and relatives during the holidays.
“It’s a good thing to share with others and bring to parties,” said Joyce, who simply asks people to return her jars to keep expenses down. “I was 293 pounds before my gastric bypass surgery in May of 2102. Now I weigh 130 pounds and I have no more sleep apnea, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or diabetes - all from weight loss and eating the proper foods. I feel so much better. I can even run around with my grandchild and not be out of breath,” said Joyce.
Joyce and Peter look forward to canning. He sterilizes the jars and lids, she cuts up the produce and he cooks the produce and puts it in the jars.
”We do it on Saturdays and it’s a fun thing we share together. We work as a team,” said Joyce. “He loves to cook. It’s relaxing for him. Everything is fresh. We’ll never go hungry!”
Joyce said it is a little expensive to begin canning because you have to buy the boiling pan, racks, jars and lids, but at the end of the season you have a feeling of accomplishment because you can see exactly what you did over the summer.
“I eat more veggies and fruit than I ever have. Sometimes I’ll just eat a bowl of corn because I love it now…and homemade soups. I feel 10 years younger. I have a better outlook on life and I sleep better,” said Joyce.
Joyce still attends meetings at Holy Family Hospital’s Center for Weight Loss and is now sharing her canned goods with others who attend and teaching others how to can fresh produce.
“Joyce’s access to the healthy fruits and vegetables at the farmers market is absolutely a component to her success,” said Holy Family Hospital Registered Dietician Lyssa Petter. “Limited access to healthy food choices is the issue for many people. Joyce is consistently enthusiastic.”
About Holy Family Hospital
Holy Family Hospital (www.holyfamilyhospital.org) is a 383-bed acute-care hospital with two campuses, Holy Family Hospital in Methuen and Holy Family Hospital at Merrimack Valley in Haverhill. Both locations provide comprehensive inpatient, outpatient and 24/7 emergency services to the greater Merrimack Valley, southern New Hampshire and the New Hampshire seacoast. Holy Family Hospital’s Methuen and Haverhill campuses are proud recipients of the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission. Both campuses have also earned “A” Hospital Safety Scores from The Leapfrog Group for their performance on national standards of safety, quality and efficiency. Holy Family Hospital is part of the Steward Health Care Systems LLC, the largest integrated community care organization in New England, which combines over 3,000 physicians, nine acute care hospital campuses, managed care, insurance programs, home care, an imaging operation, and a number of other post acute services, to provide the most cost effective and highest quality of integrated patient care. To learn more, please visit www.steward.org.