We want to make a significant contribution to the long-term health of the region and model how a farmers’ market can serve community wellness in multi-faceted ways. Specifically, our vision is:
(1) To increase community accessibility to healthy, locally grown foods;
(2) To support local farmers engaged in sustainable practices by creating a sustainable venue for the sale of their goods;
(3) To establish opportunities for community wellness partnerships, such as health screenings, public education about prevention, and study of health interventions;
(4) To build a community space for interaction among employees and students of the Medical Center and College of Medicine as well as people from surrounding neighborhoods and towns; and
(5) To pay homage to the agricultural heritage of the land surrounding the Medical Center and College of Medicine.
In autumn 2009, the idea of establishing a farmers’ market near Penn State Hershey Medical Center was borne out of a serendipitous conversation between Danny George, a faculty member at Penn State College of Medicine, and Wade Edris, a scientist in a College of Medicine research lab.
Upon joining the College of Medicine in October 2009, Danny immediately saw the potential for a farmers’ market in this region, with its rich agricultural heritage and a medical center nestled among the acres of farmland. Wade, having grown up locally on a farm, shared the vision. Upon meeting, it was clear to the co-founders that they shared a conviction that the mission of academic medical centers is not merely to treat disease, but to support wellness and sustainability in local communities.
Danny and Wade began sharing their vision with Medical Center and College leadership and the surrounding community. Support was overwhelming, and soon Penn State Hershey Medical Center and College of Medicine, the Hershey Center for Applied Research, the Hershey Trust, and Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, had all backed the market and joined efforts to bring it into existence on June 3, 2010.
Now, the market will open every Thursday on farmland left to the Hershey Trust by Milton S. Hershey, whose cows once grazed in the fields. Each week, customers may visit to peruse a wide selection of locally produced fruits and vegetables, dairy products, meats and baked goods, and other specialty items such as herbs and spices, canned/preserved goods, flowers, coffee, cider, and honey, and share in supporting local agriculture. Most products are organic or naturally produced and originate within a 25-mile radius of the market. Each week, the market will also feature innovative wellness programming: cooking classes, free health screenings, health education, and musical acts from the community.