Hastings, MN

Hastings Domiciliary Program's new farm-to-table effort provides fresh produce for veterans

Abdi Isaaq

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HASTINGS, MN – HomeGrown, a new farm-to-table effort at the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs' Domiciliary Program at the Hastings Veterans Home, brings fresh vegetables grown on-site by residents and staff to the facility's kitchen for healthy, nutritious meals. Additionally, HomeGrown connects Residents with food to raise the significance of healthy meals for their health and well-being.

HomeGrown has always been a collaborative effort between residents, volunteers, and staff. In early summer 2021, with the assistance of the Domiciliary Program's on-site woodshop, a volunteer-created six elevated garden beds. Residents and staff planted over 80 starting plants, including tomato, lettuce, bean, squash, pepper, and herb kinds.

Residents maintain the beds, harvest the crops, and deliver them to the kitchen, where they are directly used in meals. A Master Gardener from Dakota County even stopped by to offer guidance on growing, watering, and harvesting. Salads made from pounds of lettuce and hundreds of cucumbers have already been prepared for the Veterans Residents.

The Domiciliary Program, which is located on the campuses of the State Veterans Homes in Hastings and Minneapolis, offers an independent living environment to any eligible Veteran and/or their spouses, including medical management, mental health care, sobriety management, and vocational rehabilitation/work therapy. The Minnesota Veterans Homes operates and manages the Domiciliary Program, licensed as a boarding care facility but not a nursing home.

Furthermore, HomeGrown benefits include residents participating in Domiciliary operations, residents and staff learning about food, nutrition, and growing methods, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with food processing and transportation.

MDVA intends to extend HomeGrown by partnering with local farmers to augment the produce grown on-site and canning vegetables for winter consumption.

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