May 22, 2019 by John Fernandez and Tanya Racoobian
Grow2Heal: Homestead Hospital’s Community Garden (VIDEO)
As an increasing number of medical research studies conclude a diet rich with fruits and vegetables is key in preventing and managing chronic health conditions, the number of Americans consuming farm-fresh food is declining.
To foster proper nutrition, the Grow2Heal Community Garden at Homestead Hospital is growing fresh produce used to feed and educate the community about healthier living. Developed on hospital-owned vacant land adjacent to the healthcare facility, the organic – and sustainable – garden of fruits, vegetables, herbs, fruit trees and native flowers is harvested to provide better health and wellness choices for the hospital’s patients, visitors, employees and local organizations in need.
The hospital’s garden is also connecting the community to its roots as one of the oldest agricultural areas in Florida. Homestead Hospital opened in 1940, and as the area’s population and healthcare needs increased, a new, larger facility was built and opened in 2007 on land that was once farmed as potato fields.
Thi Squire, the hospital’s community garden project manager, leads educational workshops and field trips for school-age children kindergarten through 12th grade, as well as various groups of adults in the community.
“We’ve hosted 750 students since the garden opened in 2014, and last year reached more than 1,000 people in our community through our educational outreach efforts,” Ms. Squire said. “Ultimately, we want to help people make better nutritional choices to improve their health and prevent disease.”
In addition to ongoing community outreach and using the garden’s harvests in meals for hospital patients, employees and guests, the hospital’s community outreach program will soon expand to reach more children in need, an initiative made possible by a grant from The NASCAR Foundation.
The Baptist Health South Florida News Team visited the garden to learn more about this innovative community benefit project. Watch now!