Through this pandemic, I have found great solace in the garden. As we move into November, I am watching my winter garden of broccoli, kale, and cabbage grow and am tucking my soil away for a period of winter dormancy. Winter can encourage (or force) us all to turn inward, especially as we are barred from our typical holiday parties, sharing of food, and in-person events. As part of my turning inward, I am taking an online course on permaculture on growing a food forest. Instead of jamming together a mismash of plants, permaculture encourages developing a supportive ecosystem above and below the soil – a community of fungi, bacteria, and microarthropods in your soil to support your food-generating plants above.

Taking a thoughtful eye to cultivating my backyard ecosystem has been illuminating – as well as a good distraction, and of course makes me think of cultivating our Bree workgroups. Like the soil beneath my feet, our workgroups are opportunities for connection, innovation, and support.

A recent podcast pointed out the importance of having a soil ecosystem with a wide diversity of fungi and bacteria. This allows your backyard plants to be able to survive whatever the weather delivers – freezing rain in June to hot days in January. Diversity is the backbone of our workgroups as well. We have our standard mechanisms of developing our recommendations from published evidence – and a large portion of our work comes from the dynamic conversations of those present and their experience. Diversity among our members helps our workgroups to deliver change pathways that are pragmatic and based in the needs of our Washington-state population.

Next year we will convene workgroups for:

  • Cervical Cancer Screening
  • Opioid Prescribing in Older Adults
  • Telehealth
  • Total Joint Replacement Rereview

Let me know if you are interested in joining our workgroup ecosystems!

By Ginny Weir, MPH, Director, Bree Collaborative, Interim CEO, Foundation for Health Care Quality