Down on the Farm

Ann in garden

Honoring our Medical Heroes

It has been over a year that our world as we knew it turned upside-down by the COVID-19 pandemic.  We have all felt its effects, but none more so than our healthcare community.  As we sheltered in place, they still had to come to work and face the disease head-on.  The process has been grueling—especially combined with misinformation and polarization that continues to fuel case numbers and deaths across the country.

In a recent email from WI Governor Tony Evers sent directly to medical professionals in honor of Health Care Workers Week (April 5-11), he aptly wrote:

We’ve heard from so many of you about your work and the obstacles you have faced and continue to face. We’ve heard about the exhaustion—the emotional and physical toll this past year has taken. … We’ve heard about the fear that often comes from working on the frontlines of this pandemic, and the anxiety that each day often brings. We’ve watched as you’ve comforted loved ones we couldn’t. We know you’ve braced yourselves walking in the door to work. 
In the face of an unrelenting and unforgiving year, you have been a constant, especially in times where the outlook couldn’t have felt more bleak. I’ve said before that this year has tested the depth of our empathy and the strength of our selflessness—and it has—but healthcare workers here and across our country haven’t waivered, and the faith and trust we’ve placed in you hasn’t, either. You’ve never stopped showing up for us in more ways than it was ever fair to ask. 
So, for that, I want to say thank you. “

At North Star Homestead Farms, we have deep roots in healthcare (my mom Ann is a family physician), and we can empathize with the effort it takes to show up every day, no matter what, against all odds, and in the face of the most daunting of challenges.  In farming, the weather and circumstance can throw up every possible challenge in your way, and yet we persist to give the land and animals the best care we possibly can.  As farmers who understand what it means to have selfless dedication, we feel compelled to forge a meaningful way to give back to our healthcare community. 

Hayward Area Memorial Hospital and Water’s Edge (HAMHWE) has been on the frontlines of fighting the pandemic in our county.  Steve’s folks, along with many others from our community, fought their battle with COVID-19 there this winter.  The numerous challenging issues faced by our health care system undoubtedly has taken their toll on everyone involved in keeping the services of this visionary hospital in our small town going strong.  Synchronous with our own farm’s vision for a healthy planet and all its inhabitants, we know that there is a strong connection between the health of a service organization and the health of its staff.  Here is an opportunity to positively impact this connection and honor our medical heroes.

We are therefore very enthusiastic about our partnership with HAMHWE to provide CSA shares during May through October, specifically for staff who may still be facing food insecurity and who could benefit from positive dietary change.  We will be bringing these shares of fresh produce from our farm and partner farms right to the hospital’s door, so access will be convenient and the selections soulfully fresh and nutritious. 

A similar CSA partnership we’ve nurtured with NorthLakes Community Clinic has proved an impactful resource for their patients, breaking down barriers to access and building new healthy habits. The staff supports members with education and resources for learning how to use and enjoy these fresh, whole foods.  We want to extend that opportunity to HAMHWE as well, mindful that the financial strain of supporting our community through this pandemic has been a nation-wide challenge for all hospitals.

Our goal with this initiative is to community/crowd fund $10,000, enough to supply 12 CSA shares a week for 26 weeks, reaching 24 target staff members and their families on an every-other week pickup cycle.  Our farm will match donated funds 20% towards the total cost of running the project as a way to show our support for our crucial medical community.  All donations turn directly into local and Organic food for hospital staff.  Through this, we can work together to make a difference and say thank you in a meaningful way.

Let us all join together in giving healthy food to those who have provided, and continue to provide selfless care to our community during this pandemic.  Click on the link in this page to Read More and donate now !

If donating by online platform is not comfortable for you, please reach out via phone at 715-462-3453.

We would love to have you join us in this initiative, and we would also love to see this momentum spread to other communities as well.  Small town hospitals everywhere should feel our love, respect, and encouragement during these difficult times.  Their sacrifice has been immense and should never be taken for granted.  To all the healthcare workers reading this:  we see you, and we appreciate you.  And to all my readers, I encourage you to reach out in thanks to our medical heroes, in whatever way feels right to you.  Gratitude is a potent medicine to both the giver and the receiver.  See you down on the farm sometime.

Laura Berlage is a co-owner of North Star Homestead Farms, LLC and Farmstead Creamery & Café. 715-462-3453 www.northstarhomestead.com

This year’s yarn bombed peace pole at Farmstead honors healthcare workers. Photo by Laura Berlage

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