Thanks to an anonymous donor, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital has opened up a $1 million organic greenhouse and education center. The goal is to teach southeast Michigan residents – including patients, visitors and staffers (and definitely kids!) – about healthy living.
The complex, which opened in early fall, offers 9 a.m.-4 p.m. tours all week long. Schools are welcome to bring children on field trips to learn about nutrition – a move to help prevent childhood obesity, the hospital notes in a release. In-depth tours and workshops are available by appointment.
Patients are using the greenhouse for gardening therapy, too, and to learn about managing diseases with healthy diets. They'll even get to experience physical, occupational and behavioral therapy in this spacious, plant-filled respite. Meanwhile, hospital staff and visitors can visit and unwind on breaks.
Resident farmer Michelle Lutz, former co-owner of the Maple Creek organic vegetable farm in Yale, Mich. who has more than 16 years of experience, is growing everything from tomatoes and eggplants to lettuce and herbs – plus peppers, cucumbers, peas, strawberries and Swiss chard.
The greenhouse also operates as a food source for the hospital itself: Its produce is estimated to cut costs by more than $20,000 per year.
Beyond appearing in the cafe and on patients' plates, the harvest will be used in the hospital's popular 90-seat Demonstration Kitchen, which offers many community class offerings. The food is kept in a cooler in the kitchen, the hospital reported – and the time from "the harvest to the plate" is less than 24 hours.