Rockmart Farmers Market February 2018

Polk Medical Center via their parent company Floyd Healthcare Management are now sponsors of the Rockmart Farmers Market held weekly on Thursdays. (Sean Williams/SJ)

  • An effort to improve the diets of Polk County residents is seen as vital to promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Polk Medical Center via their parent organization Floyd Medical Center has teamed up with The Rockmart Farmers Market to keep as many locals as healthy as possible.

Healthy food is the first step to a healthy life, and the hospital’s sponsorship is helping the market make its locally grown fruits, vegetables, and meats a staple in the Rockmart diet.

“We’ve made an investment in the farmers market,” Floyd Medical Center public relations manager Dan Bevels said. “We have an organization called ‘Live Well Polk’ that encourages people to live better, healthier lives. We want to help people avoid diabetes, obesity, and other health issues.”

“Frankly, we want to keep people out of the clinics for anything other than routine wellness check-ups. We want people to be healthy. That’s why we’re helping the market supply locally grown, organic food,” Bevels added. Every Thursday from 2 through 6 p.m., farmers and vendors from all over Northwest Georgia gather to sell their goods on Rockmart’s Water Street.

Whether it be the summer tomato, the winter squash, or grass-fed beef, hungry citizens can find the perfect ingredients for nourishing, creative, and healthy dishes. Patrons can keep up to date with the market’s happenings by visiting http://www.rockmartfarmersmarket.com/.

“We are working on some really creative ideas to get that food into more people’s hands,” Bevels said. “Some people may work in industries that don’t allow them to get off and visit the market, so we’re trying to fix that.”

The group’s distribution ideas are still a work in progress, but Rockmart Farmers Market Executive Director Shonna Kirkpatrick has been hard at work giving locals an incentive to use healthy foods by creating weekly recipes. From cream of mushroom soup to green tomato salsa, the myriad recipes all involve market food and are easy to make. Various meal ideas can be found at http://www.rockmartfarmersmarket.com/recipes/.

Sponsoring the market is one of many steps Floyd has taken to help the community reach better health.

“We also provide athletic trainers to both high schools at no cost. Each school has a nurse, and we provide free AED’s and EpiPen’s to Polk County schools,” Bevels said. “We’ve also offered training on suicide prevention and awareness and Opioid awareness.”

More information about the Live Well Polk program can be found at http://www.polkhospital.org/LiveWell/Pages/default.aspx.