A hospital operating an on-site organic greenhouse to grow its own produce for patient meals. To me, this idea seems like a no-brainer, and should have been common practice 30 years ago. A while back I ran across the story of the Henry Ford hospital near Detroit, and their new, million dollar, hydroponic, organic greenhouse which is being used to feed patients and provide educational opportunities. One of my first thoughts was ‘Mayo needs to do this in Rochester’. Other people seem to feel the same way, and felt I should write an article about it, so here we are.
In researching this article, (OK, a 5 minute internet search) it appears the Henry Ford greenhouse is highly unusual, if not the first of its kind in the U.S. This surprised me somewhat. I am not a doctor or a medical professional, but I have grown produce, I eat produce, and I have been a hospital patient way too many times, so I feel qualified to at least make a few observations on this matter. If anyone in the medical profession actually reads this, please feel free to call me on any inaccuracies.
I am pretty sure the items a person eats and drinks have a great impact, if not the single largest impact on overall long term health, as well as recovery from an injury or illness. I am also pretty sure that sick people tend to fare best in environments with the least amount of impurities (chemicals, germs, air pollutants, etc.). A hospital having more control over these things is probably in the patient’s best interest. Produce grown in a controlled, on site environment, with no pesticides or processing chemicals, from the best available seeds, fed with pure water and not exposed to outdoor air pollution would seem to be the best possible food to for sick people.
Fresh produce tastes better. Very fresh produce tastes better yet. Anyone who has ever pulled a carrot out of the ground, rubbed or washed the dirt off and eaten it will likely back me up on this. Better taste than the best produce at any grocery store at any time of the year. Imagine making hospital lunch (or smoothies, even) with veggies or fruit picked that morning. MMMM.
Any medical or scientific research gets more accurate results with control of, or better control of more variables. Right? Right. Enough said.
Patients are often required to change their diets due to illness. I would think growing food within the hospital itself could help with this in some way or another.
Many sources over the years have indicated to me that all people benefit from being around plants and in sunshine. Maybe have some open spots to put patients for 20 or 30 minutes to help with recovery. How about one greenhouse for downtown, and one at St. Mary’s? Maybe put on the roof of a lower building, so the plants could be seen by patients and staff?
I have attached some articles on the Henry Ford greenhouse, which may have some points I have not covered. Please share this article with anyone you know who works at any hospital, if you feel it is a good idea.
Article by the person running the Ford greenhouse:
“The greenhouse has begun to host school field trips, and the demand for the daily tours is high. Bringing in children to show them how food is grown helps them to learn better nutrition, which can prevent childhood obesity and many chronic diseases.
Gardening therapy allows patients to help their recovery while learning how to prevent or manage chronic diseases through healthy growing and eating practices. Space is available for physical, occupational and behavioral therapy, as well as a restful place for staff and people visiting loved ones.”