In the deep freeze of a Michigan January, there is a warm and fertile oasis in the city, where exciting changes are growing. St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor once maintained a 25-acre lawn that consumed valuable resources and offered little in return. Today, the grounds are home to three hoop houses and an outdoor bed that serve as a center of education and a reliable, renewable source for fresh, local produce. Not only does the farm produce food for its patient meal program, it serves as a home for clinical and community education, physical therapy, community outreach and serves as an example of responsible land management and environmental stewardship. The garden produces vegetables for patient meals, the in-house retail food service, and for sale at the hospital’s weekly farmer’s market. A small quantity of vegetables that it produces are offered for retail sale in a nearby grocer— not to compete with local providers— but to raise awareness of the community gardening and education programs available through the hospital farm. Nearly one thousand fifth-grade students visited the farm last year to learn the benefits of growing your own food. To ensure that fresh, healthy food is accessible to the entire community, the farm features a handicapped-accessible greenhouse–the only one of its kind in the country. This special facility was built in partnership with a local traumatic brain injury recovery group to provide physical and occupational therapy as well as recreation while learning the value of good nutrition. Because there is a preschool curriculum in place and accessibility for everyone, the farm has become popular with special needs groups in the area. Additionally, the hospital farm also provides opportunities for dietetic interns to study the nutritional value of local and organic produce.
The farm produces about 3,000 pounds of fresh, nutritious fruits, vegetables and herbs all year long— even in winter. Having a working farm on hospital grounds is a great way to positively impact community health and help to combat malnutrition. Incorporating a greenhouse or farm in to your hospital food service operation is a great way to reach the community and encourage patients and neighbors to improve their long-term health and care for the environment while providing your patients with freshest possible meals. Transforming a lawn into a working farm is one way to effectively manage resources while controlling food costs. To further reduce losses from food waste and improve patient relations and staff productivity, automate your hospital diet office and food service program with powerful software.
Vision Software is a full-service provider of powerful, feature-rich informatics that empower hospital food service programs with the tools to serve fresher, more appetizing and more nutritious food while better managing food and human resources. Our software applications and suites help you provide better, more personalized patient meal service that improves patient nourishment outcomes, dramatically increases patient satisfaction, and saves your facility time and money.