Marshfield Medical Center, Minocqua, 2021 Community Benefit

Hydroponic Gardens: Growing Access to Healthy, Fresh Produce Year-Round

Harvesting hydroponic lettuce at Marshfield Medical Center - Minocqua are (from left) Kathy Springhorn and Melanie Lloyd. The lettuce donation was accepted by Lakeland Food Pantry in Arbor Vitae.
The Center for Community Health Advancement (CCHA) is placing hydroponic garden units in locations across the Marshfield Clinic Health System service area to address the issue of food insecurity.
These indoor gardens, constructed by Wisconsin-based Fork Farms, LLC, grow plants in nutrient-rich water instead of soil. 
They are strategically placed to provide individuals and communities struggling with food insecurity access to fresh produce year-round and support awareness that healthy food is necessary for good health.
In 2018, the Health System awarded a healthy communities grant to the Lincoln County Health Department for the units. Their success inspired CCHA to examine community health data, identify communities with the greatest need and place garden units in those communities to impact food insecurity, health and accessibility to fresh produce. 
One identified area of great need is Rusk County, so units were placed with community partners in Ladysmith, Flambeau and Bruce. This project was expanded to Oneida and Vilas counties, including a unit installed at the Marshfield Medical Center-Minocqua, which had its first bountiful harvest in spring 2021. The lettuce was donated to the Lakeland Food Pantry.
CCHA will continue to plant the seed of innovative food solutions in other communities, all to improve the health of their residents through access to affordable nutrition.