New teaching kitchen at Turner Farm encourages people to take healthy eating into their own hands

INDIAN HILL, Ohio -- Turner Farm is much more than just an organic farm these days.

The Indian Hill nonprofit and Cincinnati's largest certified organic farm is also an educational foundation dedicated to teaching organic farming that's starting to take things up a few notches.

Turner Farm's state-of-the-art teaching kitchen will soon debut to the public. Photo provided by Turner Farm

Through their state-of-the-art teaching kitchen, folks at Turner want to create a new, innovative “food culture.”

“Our focus is more than just growing good food in the garden,” said Robert Edmiston, executive director of Turner Farm and a Cincinnati attorney. “We believe in growing quality food, understanding our relationship to foods and how they are produced, being informed about healthy lifestyle choices, and from there taking ownership of our individual health and wellness. We are trying to encourage people to take ownership of their health.”

Edmiston believes that integrating good food choices such as eating more plant-based and fewer animal products can help prevent diseases.

“Right now, in our health care system, we are facing a tsunami of disaster. People are making poor dietary and lifestyle choices, often times leading to the medical system having to address preventable health care problems at a high price,” he said.

Turner Farm expands its focus

Turner Farm began its operations in the 1800s, but in 1994 it became an organic farm under the leadership of Bonnie Mitsui. Nowadays, the farm is home to all sorts of plant varieties as well as both domestic and wild animals, like chickens and sheep.

Turner Farm's self-serve farm market is stocked with certified organic herbs and vegetables grown on the farm grounds. Prices are displayed on a chalkboard for customers to peruse. Photo provided by Turner Farm

About two decades ago, a national movement to connect good eating habits to better health begun, which was consistent with what Turner Farm had been preaching all along.

In the past few years, though, Turner Farm has expanded its focus beyond just farming and education to include individual health and wellness. With the teaching kitchen, staff invite people to learn how to take the best produce and best foods and learn how to live a healthier life with diverse classes and cuisines.

“We want to have a team of chefs and doctors to show people how they can redefine the food on their plates and we are starting classes to teach that,” said Edmiston.

To further that goal, Turner Farm developed an association with Dr. Sian Cotton, Dr. John Tew and the University of Cincinnati Center for Integrative Health and Wellness.

Through this association, programs are being developed whereby physicians/providers and patients work together as partners to engage body, mind and spirit in attaining and maintaining optimal health.

To illustrate the fact that the U.S. medical community might be pivoting toward a more individualized approach that embraces personal responsibility, Edmiston notes that of the approximately 160 medical schools in the U.S., about 69 of them have now joined the Academic Consortium for Integrative Medicine & Health (The Consortium), formerly known as the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine.

Additionally, through their partnership with the UC Center for Integrative Health and Wellness, Turner Farm has become a founding member of the national Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, joining such other institutions as Harvard University, Dartmouth College, Vanderbilt University, Google, the Cleveland Clinic and the Culinary Institute of America, to name a few.

The teaching kitchen's debut

The Turner Farm teaching kitchen will offer classes to the public and the space will also be available to rent for events and meetings.

The Center for Integrative Health and Wellness will even use the kitchen to teach medical students, nurses, physicians and other health professionals valuable nutritional information, culinary skills and self-care practices for their patients and themselves.

The kitchen will be unveiled to the Cincinnati community during a weekend event on Sept. 23 and 24, with net proceeds benefiting UC’s Center for Integrative Health and Wellness.

Included in the weekend's events are speakers who have long championed the cause of better health within the integrative health and wellness movement.

The Harvest to Healing dinner that's scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 23 will showcase 50 featured speakers, including Harvard alumnus Dr. David M. Eisenberg, who is currently the director of culinary nutrition and an adjunct associate professor at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His landmark national surveys (published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1993 and the Journal of the American Medicine Association in 1998) documented the extent to which the U.S. population routinely uses and pays for complementary, alternative, integrative and lifestyle-related medical therapies.

Dr. Aviad Haramati, a professor of integrative physiology in the department of biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology and the department of medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine, will also speak that evening. Haramati, who also serves as co-director of Georgetown's Physiology-CAM graduate program, seeks to improve medical education across the globe, especially with regard to the intersection of science, mind-body medicine and professionalism. He's been a visiting professor at over 80 medical schools around the world.

Also joining the discussion is chef Adam Busby, general manager for the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, located in St. Helena, California.

At 5 p.m. Sept. 24, the Seed to Soul dinner will feature a menu curated by Eisenberg, Haramati and Busby and prepared by local caterer Jeff Thomas.

For more information or to make reservations, call Ann Ilyinsky at 513-256-5910, Kathy Cain at 513-924-3367, or visit Turner Farm's website.

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