US: Free medical clinic adds growing towers to vacant room

Most mornings, Hilton Head's largest free medical clinic is overflowing. More space is coming. With an agreement between the clinic and the Town of Hilton Head in 2021, plans have been made to turn neighboring undeveloped land into a much-needed parking lot.

But the nonprofit's leaders see another potential for the 1.3-acre parcel that sits just west of the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic near Northridge Drive and Palmetto Parkway. There's space, they say, for an orchard of fruit trees to grow amongst the cars.

Beyond mitigating food insecurity, small healthy changes in patients' diets have yielded "amazing results," said Dr. John Newman, executive director of the Hilton Head Volunteers in Medicine.

Through the bustling waiting room, past the raised beds of peppers and Newman's avocado, is the clinic's wellness center and "FARM-ACY." A room formerly dedicated to Zumba classes is now filled with vertical containers of leafy vegetables.

More than 30,000 heads of leafy greens are grown by the Farm-acy annually. The food is distributed, along with other healthy donated food items, to patients and to other charitable organizations on the island, including the Deep Well Project and Sandalwood Community Food Pantry.

"I feel that we're going to learn a lot more about what our food has been doing to help us and hurt us, and as we learn that, we're going to realize that food is pretty important," Newman said.

Read the article at Post and Courier

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