Veggies to go

Veggies to go

HSC fruit and veggie lovers now have easy access to Gator CSA

By Laura Mize

You can eat veggies like these if you join Gator CSA./Photo my Maria Belen Farias

If more fruits and vegetables are what the doctor ordered for you, you’re in luck. Starting this fall, participants in the Gator Community Supported Agriculture program, or CSA, can pick up fresh, locally grown produce at the Health Science Center.

The program’s new location at the HSC is meant to promote sustainability, local farmers and healthy eating, said Lauren Cooper, a second-year medical student at UF.

Photo by Maria Belen Farias

“Every patient you see needs to have proper nutrition,” she said. “There are so many people that have hypertension, diabetes and hypoglycemia. Those are some of the biggest (causes) of heart disease, of all sorts of diseases. I think the starting ground is prevention and eating well.”

Cooper initiated the effort to bring area farmers to the HSC after reading an article in The New York Times about farmers’ markets operating at medical schools. Since then, she’s worked with UF’s Office of Sustainability to establish an additional drop-off location for Gator CSA.

Gator CSA began operating in 2009, allowing participants the opportunity to select one of four farmers, pay for all the food in advance and pick up the produce at a location at a parking lot off Bledsoe Drive (near the Southwest Recreation Center) every Monday afternoon.

This fall, three farms also will offer pickup at the HSC, and the program is increasing the maximum number of customers who may participate. Gator CSA is open to anyone who wants to participate, not just UF employees and students.

Cooper said Nina Stoyan-Rosenzweig, director of the College of Medicine’s Medical Humanities Program, and first-year medical students Jillian McLaughlin and Stephen Chrzanowski are helping her organize the new Gator CSA pickup location. The three students also are working to establish a Sustainability Interest Group for medical students. Stoyan-Rosenzweig will serve as the group’s faculty adviser.

Volunteers from UF’s Premedical Chapter of the American Medical Student Association will manage the HSC pickup location, which will be open from 4-5:30 p.m. on Mondays. Cooper is working with HSC leaders to determine the exact location for the pickup. Gator CSA pickups at Bledsoe Drive will continue to be held from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on Mondays.

Cooper, who earned a bachelor’s degree in nutritional sciences from UF, said bringing the Gator CSA to the Health Science Center is just the start of her plans to promote healthy eating and local foods at UF and Shands.

“My goal is to get a farmer’s market here in the next couple of years,” she said. “But we’ll see how this goes first.”

About the Gator CSA

• Farms offering HSC pickup include Swallowtail Farm, Kumarie’s Organic Garden and The Family Garden Organic Farm.

• Each farm has a different delivery period, beginning in October or November and ending in late spring or early summer.

• Kumarie’s Organic Garden offers a half-share option.

• Prices range from $350-$600 for the season.

• For more information or to sign up, visit To volunteer, email Lauren Cooper at