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Farm stand at the WellSpan Heart & Vascular Center is perfect produce partnership

April 28, 2021

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Jim Markey is a seventh-generation farmer, whose family has supplied fresh fruits and vegetables to York County since the 1800s.

That stream of watermelons, sweet corn and peaches will continue to flow via Markey’s J-Mar Farms stand, operating out of a new building near the soon-to-be opened WellSpan Heart & Vascular Center on South George Street in York, adjacent to the Apple Hill campus. Markey’s stand recently moved from a spot on South George Street to one just around the corner on Monument Road, more than quintupling in size and adding a refrigerated case, running water and enlarged parking with the move.

“I’m very happy,” says Markey, a slender, friendly man who never seems to stop moving and can wax poetic for several minutes on how to grow a delicious, summertime tomato. “We were at the other place for 40 years and to move to a new place and stay this close, it’s working out very well.”

The center will feature Markey’s fresh produce in its Healthy Heart Café and its demonstration kitchen, where patients will learn how to prepare and eat the seasonal items in healthy meals. Those patients, nearby residents and WellSpan team members also will have easy access to shop for fresh foods at the stand.

It’s all in keeping with the healthy lifestyle being promoted by the center, which opens May 3. The 60,520-square-foot building houses WellSpan Cardiology, WellSpan Cardiac Surgery and WellSpan Vascular Surgery and supporting outpatient services including the WellSpan Heart Failure Program and non-invasive procedures such as echocardiograms and electrocardiograms.  The new center will also have a cardiac rehabilitation program, as well as vascular ultrasound services.

In addition to the Healthy Heart Café and demonstration kitchen for cooking classes, the center also features a rooftop garden and rooftop exercise track for the cardiac rehabilitation program. The center’s campus has a walking trail that winds past the J-Mar Farms stand, located to the rear of the building.

“Jim is a perfect partner for the healthy lifestyle we are promoting for our patients and community,” said Dr. Christopher Lipp, WellSpan vice president of cardiovascular services. “There is a definite link between what we eat and risk factors for heart disease. We are excited to feature Jim’s locally grown, fresh produce at the center.”

Markey, 61, is excited about the new location. His family has long ties to the center’s campus. Since 1980, Markey farmed the “triangle,” a plot bounded by Grantley Road, Monument Road and South George Street that he rented from a member of his large, extended family. He set up the farm stand on the South George Street side to sell the produce he grew on the triangle and on a 200-acre farm in Spry, York County.

For four decades, customers lined up to buy his sweet corn, cantaloupes, watermelon, cucumbers, lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, cut flowers and other fresh goods.

When WellSpan bought the “triangle,” Markey guessed the land would be developed and he would lose the farm stand, one of two he operates in York County. Then WellSpan officials invited him to a meeting and assured him that his fresh produce is important to the community, Apple Hill neighbors and WellSpan team members from the nearby Apple Hill campus. Would he be interested in staying on the campus at a new location?

A deal was made for Markey to move to the new, larger building, which he is renting.

The J-Mar stand will take WellSpan Market Bucks vouchers, which are provided to food-insecure patients with chronic illnesses such as heart disease. It also will display WellSpan Market Basket of the Month posters, which provide tips and recipes for seasonal produce.

The J-Mar Farms stand operates from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. It is closed Sundays.