Gold Standard Employer: Baptist Health South Florida
The Grow2Heal garden at Homestead Hospital is a creative solution to ongoing challenges with chronic disease management and preventive healthcare.
Hospital leadership dedicated vacant land adjacent to the hospital to develop an organic – and sustainable – garden as a way to offer employees and the community fresh, nutritious foods with a far-reaching impact.
The three-acre garden can potentially grow 30,000 pounds of produce annually, and is served to patients, visitors and hospital employees. It is also used to host departmental retreats for employees and educate the community through school fieldtrips, health fairs, cooking demonstrations, wellness workshops, and support groups. The Grow 2 Heal garden, has also hosted events like Savor the Flavor nutrition month throughout our various locations. Employees were able to watch a cooking demonstration and sample food prepared using the vegetables and herbs from the garden. Not only was this entertaining, but it encouraged employees to make healthy choices by preparing simple and tasty meals using fresh herbs, vegetables and fruits.
Proper nutrition can help manage – or even prevent – chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart failure. And one of the keys to preventive health is starting young. More than 500 students toured the garden last school year as part of the hospital’s Grow Your Lunch fieldtrip program. During their visit, they planted seeds, harvested fruits and vegetables, and cooked their own lunch under the guidance of the community garden’s manager. They learned to appreciate the importance of fresh, nutritious foods through a unique farm-to-table experience.
In addition to the Learning Center that was recently constructed with the help of the Young Philanthropists of Baptist Health, there are plans for a greenhouse, farmers market, and handicap-accessible “healing trail” lined with scented fruits and flowers. Admitted patients currently enjoy the hundreds of sunflowers grown purposely to brighten their rooms.
There are only a handful of hospitals across the nation applying a similar garden concept.