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Boston Hospital’s Rooftop Garden Provides Over 3000kg of Organic Veggies a Year for Patients

Boston Hospital’s Rooftop Garden Provides Over 3000kg of Organic Veggies a Year for Patients
Source: Facebook/BostonMedicalCenter

The Boston Medical Center’s cultivated rooftop garden feeds patients with fresh organic homegrown produce.

Food really is medicine at the Boston Medical Center

For one Boston hospital, feeding patients is about more than simply taking in calories. Food is medicine here, and they’re getting that food from an unusual location. What was once a flat black roof provides prime real estate for roughly 25 varieties of fruits and vegetables that feed hospital patients, visitors, and employees. The farm is considered the first of its kind in New England.

She’s planted lettuce and spinach, pulled up peas and green beans, and watered and weeded. BMC is a federally designated safety net hospital, with a medically underserved patient population that often lacks access to “healthy, fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables. I think that what the farm is doing is really, really important,” Gibson says.
Reann Gibson (right) volunteers at the farm because she’s “really interested in…sustainability and food justice,” She’s planted lettuce and spinach, pulled up peas and green beans, and watered and weeded. BMC is a federally designated safety net hospital, with a medically underserved patient population that often lacks access to “healthy, fresh, affordable fruits and vegetables. I think that what the farm is doing is really, really important,” Gibson says. Source: http://www.bu.edu/today/2017/rooftop-farm-at-boston-medical-center/

Recognising that “food is medicine,” one Boston hospital put an organic farm on its roof

High above the Boston Medical Center grows a bountiful organic vegetable garden that feeds patients, staff and the poor. — reported ReturnToNow

More than a hundred volunteers tend the garden, which includes kale, collard greens, bok choy, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, aubergines, beans, squash and a wide variety of herbs.

The crops are grown in organic soil in recycled milk crates and are pollinated by two onsite beehives that provide honey as well. The 2500-square-foot (232 square metre) farm also provides habitat for bees in an otherwise uninhabitable urban setting.

The eco-farm insulates the building reducing cooling and heating costs and absorbs rainwater that would otherwise contribute to sewage overflow in the city streets below.

But most of all, the rooftop garden provides nutritious food for those who need it most, between 5000 and 7000 pounds of it per year. That’s over 3 metric tonnes.

“Food is medicine. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing,” says David Maffeo, the hospital’s senior director of support services.

“Most people associate hospitals with terrible food, which is really interesting because right when we’re at our most vulnerable, in hospitals, you’d think that would mean we need nourishing food,” adds Lindsay Allen, the farm’s manager.

Allen manages a composting system to keep the soil fertilised and intersperses a variety of crops to ward off pests and attract beneficial bugs.

“I try to think of this farm as an ecosystem as much as possible,” Allen says. “How do we keep all of the scraps that we aren’t actually using for food onsite, so that we can continue to create soil and compost up here?”

As a “safety net” hospital, BMC mostly serves low-income and elderly patients. It offers free gardening, cooking and nutrition classes, and free food to low-income families.

“We know that between 40% and 60% of individual health is determined by non-clinical factors. So it’s important that the healthcare industry thinks about issues that impact and drive health like food access and housing,” Kate Sommerfeld, president of social determinants of health at ProMedica, told Reuters.

“Most urban environments are food deserts. It’s hard to get locally grown food and I think it’s something we owe our patients and our community”, Maffeo said.

Source: ReturnToNow.net

Nevertheless, Boston medical Center’s rooftop farm manager Lindsay Allen and her team were able to grow over 5000lbs/2268kg of produce in 2017, and a similar amount again last year. The garden even boast two beehives to pollinate the crops.
The farm takes up 2400 square ft(223 m2) of space Nevertheless, Boston medical Center’s rooftop farm manager Lindsay Allen and her team were able to grow over 5000lbs/2268kg of produce in 2017, and a similar amount again last year. The garden even boast two beehives to pollinate the crops. Source: BUToday/CydneyScott
“It’s really integrated into a fuller picture of what it means to care for people in a way that I think more hospitals should be doing,” Allen says. The crops are planted in neat, long rows of 2,300 total milk crates. Each crate is made from recycled woven fabric that allows for water drainage and air movement.
Farm manager Lindsay Allen says that Boston Medical Center’s rooftop farm features about two dozen crops “It’s really integrated into a fuller picture of what it means to care for people in a way that I think more hospitals should be doing,” Allen says. The crops are planted in neat, long rows of 2,300 total milk crates. Each crate is made from recycled woven fabric that allows for water drainage and air movement. Source: LivingOnEarth/JaimeKaiser
The rooftop produce ends up in several venues, including BMC’s Demonstration Kitchen. Classes are held here for patients and staff on cooking healthy meals. Kitchen manager and dietitian Tracey Burg (right photo, center), aided by Maureen Worrell (foreground) and Amazine Bodden, prepared fresh-off-the-farm oven-fried green tomatoes and harvest kale salad recently.
Bucking the reputation of lousy hospital food, the BMC even holds cookery classes The rooftop produce ends up in several venues, including BMC’s Demonstration Kitchen. Classes are held here for patients and staff on cooking healthy meals. Kitchen manager and dietitian Tracey Burg (right photo, center), aided by Maureen Worrell (foreground) and Amazine Bodden, prepared fresh-off-the-farm oven-fried green tomatoes and harvest kale salad recently. Source: BUToday/CydneyScott
The farm supports a mix of crops, some of which Allen can harvest continuously, and others that are more season-specific. They include collard greens, tomatoes, kale, carrots, three varieties of cucumber and several types of peppers. Allen interplants other crops, such as bok choy and basil, which maximize growing space and encourage a variety of beneficial insects to visit.
A hospital stay can be made so much less upsetting by the quality of the food, and BMC’s patients say they love it! The farm supports a mix of crops, some of which Allen can harvest continuously, and others that are more season-specific. They include collard greens, tomatoes, kale, carrots, three varieties of cucumber and several types of peppers. Allen interplants other crops, such as bok choy and basil, which maximize growing space and encourage a variety of beneficial insects to visit. Source: Facebook/BostonMedicalCenter

At BMC they believe that food is medicine Three stories above BMC's power plant thrives a 2,400 square foot farm with more than 25 crops. The farm not only provides fresh, local produce to hospitalised patients, cafeterias, The Teaching Kitchen, and Preventive Food Pantry, but is also part of BMC's commitment to going green. Source: YouTube/BostonMedicalCenter
Virtual Tour: BMC Rooftop Farm Take a virtual tour three stories above the ground of Boston Medical Center’s 2,400 square foot rooftop farm. The farm not only provides fresh, local produce to hospitalised patients and Preventive Food Pantry, but is also part of BMC's commitment to going green. Source: YouTube/BostonMedicalCenter

There’s so much more to discover about the Boston Medial Center

Boston Medical Center (BMC) is a 567-bed academic medical center located in Boston’s historic South End, providing medical care for infants, children, teens and adults. To learn more about the Boston Medical Center’s rooftop garden program, the beehives, the cookery courses, and more, click HERE.

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