Everyone knows that hospitals care for ailing people. However, some locations have also been caring for something else entirely – gardens. Growing in-house produce benefits patients, hospital food service and hospital finances.
In 2011, a hospital in New York made headlines when the location’s green movement led to an on-site vegetable garden behind the establishment. According to Post Star, the garden was tended to by groundskeepers and food service workers when time permitted. For hospitals considering gardens but lacking in land, there may still be options. Last year, a Michigan hospital built a greenhouse garden on their roof. The garden was projected to save the hospital over $20,000 a year.
Providing benefits for everyone
By providing locally-grown vegetables for patients, these hospitals not only provided healthier options for patients, but they also offered the freshest possible ingredients. Even some of the finest restaurants that boast fresh ingredients require a delivery. By having a garden at the hospital, staff could essentially walk out the door, grab a vegetable and bring it straight to the patient. Additionally, because transportation was cut so drastically, no artificial preservatives were necessary and all the produce was organic.
Patients may not be the only people positively affected by the implementation of on-site gardens. In 2010, another Michigan hospital declared its plans to establish a number of farms on hospital property. It also noted that as the farms expanded, the produce would be offered in the hospital cafeteria for patients’ families and staff to consume. In addition, they planned to set up a farmer’s market to sell their local goods. Hospital staff who work indoors all day likely appreciate the opportunity to work outdoors. Food service staff probably appreciate working with finer ingredients.
Hospitals that created on-site gardens also benefit financially. By eliminating a large number of transportation and delivery needs, paying for off-site produce and cutting down on waste. This shows that the implementation of a garden in hospitals may prove worthy for hospitals that can afford the project and provide the staff.
On-site gardens at hospitals provide great opportunities for patients and staff to eat healthier, for employees to enjoy the outdoors at work and for hospitals to save money. Alongside commitment to patients, staff and the environment, a garden may be an extra step that hospitals can take that may result in better patient satisfaction surveys.