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National Great Outdoors Month highlighted by a variety of programs at WRNMMC


By AJ Simmons

Command Communications

As National Great Outdoors Month, June reminds the nation—and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC)—of the importance of getting outside and staying active.

WRNMMC encourages civilians and service members to enjoy the outdoors, get active and practice healthy habits through a variety of events and programs throughout the month.
Among the several organizations and initiatives at WRNMMC that help to promote the great outdoors is Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA).
CSA is a program that connects participants—also referred to as subscribers—to farmers in the local communities, according to Adrienne Brantley, a Health Educator with WRNMMC’s Integrated Health and Wellness Program who helps to organize the program.
“We were just looking at different options here at Walter Reed that we could offer locally-grown, fresh produce for staff members and service members as a goal towards eating healthier,” said Brantley.
Brantley explained that the benefits of participating in CSA go beyond eating healthier and supporting local farmers: “For every weekly share that you purchase, one to two pounds of food is given to a needy family in the area, and it helps decrease the amount of food that’s being wasted in the area.”
Brantley also pointed out that participation in CSA helps to foster a connection between Walter Reed Bethesda staff and service members as well as with the surrounding community. Joining this, she believes that the program can help to inspire participants to try new foods and can even inspire them to take up the hobbies of gardening and cooking.
“It may spark an interest in them to get a garden going or to start growing things on their balcony or patio,” said Brantley. “So that would be a good way for people to go from not eating vegetables…to saying, ‘You know what, I can grow some of these on my in in my own area.’”
Brantley went on to explain that CSA provides subscribers with a variety of fruits and vegetables—not just carrots, tomatoes and potatoes. CSA keeps subscribers prepared for their weekly produce by providing recipes for using each of the included items each week.
CSA is not the only event that is promoting the great outdoors and eating healthy. The “Get Growing!” gardening presentation series, available to active-duty service members, retirees, beneficiaries, civilians and contractors at WRNMMC, offers attendees a look into unique forms of gardening.
The presentation series, which is also organized by Brantley, invites local gardening experts to WRNMMC to put their methods, skills and habits on display for interested employees.
This month’s “Get Growing!” presentation focused on aquaponics, a unique form of gardening that affiliates plants and fish into one symbiotic ecosystem. The process of aquaponics involves using the nutrients produced by the activity of tank-dwelling fish to sustain plant life at the surface of the water.
Presenter Steve Robinson, a local master gardener and an expert in the field of aquaponics, explained that the goal of an aquaponics system is to develop a high level of efficiency and self-sustainability. He elaborated that a well-designed aquaponics ecosystem can grow a wide variety of plant life, ranging from herbs and flowers to tomatoes and radishes.
The next installment of the “Get Growing!” presentation series will be offered on Aug. 10, and it will present unique techniques and tricks for growing fruits at home. Other upcoming topics this year include techniques in water bath canning and a feature on microgreens and their high nutritional value.
For more information regarding Community-Supported Agriculture or the “Get Growing!” agriculture presentation series, contact Adrienne Brantley at adrienne.p.brantley.civ@mail.mil.