Medical clinic in Normal takes up gardening for better health

Community Health Care Clinic
Michelle Rush, who works in Human Resources at Advocate BroMenn, works on one of the raised planting beds, where tomatoes will soon grow. (Photo by Howard Packowitz/WJBC)

By Howard Packowitz

NORMAL – The Community Health Care Clinic in Normal is literally planting the seeds of better health for its patients, many of whom receive free health care and either can’t afford or have trouble finding fresh fruits and vegetables.

Donors and volunteers are tilling soil for a new garden in back of the clinic on Franklin Ave. in Normal. Planting started on Mother’s Day, and patient Chantel Brown said a heart condition requires her to eat healthy food.

“The reason for the clinic is also to help someone like me that can’t even afford our medical (care),” said Brown.

“Sometimes, you can’t even afford medical (care), how can you afford to eat?”

Clinic executive director Angie McLaughlin pointed to parts of the garden that will produce lettuce, tomatoes, kale, onions, radishes, spinach, cabbage, peppers, and broccoli. The garden will also include fruit trees and raised planting beds for herbs.

“We know that improving access to healthy fruits and vegetables for not only our patients, but others in the community, is the right thing to do,” said McLaughlin.

“We know that healthy lifestyles improve overall health, and that was one thing we hadn’t been able to give our patients,” McLaughlin also said.

Employees of nearby Advocate BroMenn Medical Center donated the seeds and plantings, and Reinhart Grounds Maintenance tilled the garden and donated the raised planting beds.

The clinic is looking for more volunteers to tend the garden this summer. People wanting to help can sign up at

Howard Packowitz can be reached at


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