September 19, 2016
As rooftop gardens catch on at schools, churches, apartment buildings and community groups, it seems only natural that more hospitals would start growing their own produce—given the mounting evidence of the impact of diet on chronic diseases like diabetes.
Since 2012, Stony Brook University Hospital has operated its own organic rooftop farm, which grows food used in meals for both employees and patients. This growing season, it expanded to its largest space yet—36 raised beds comprising 2,242 square feet on its third-floor roof to grow veggies and herbs, a Stony Brook spokeswoman said. In 2015,
Lenox Hill Hospital on Manhattan's Upper East Side established its own rooftop garden, which supplies fresh basil for its pizzas, and includes fig and plum trees and pumpkins. The hospital holds periodic "snipping" events for employees to gather fresh herbs and get cooking tips from the Lenox Hill chef, a spokeswoman said.
Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn became the latest New York hospital to start farming its rooftop, as part of its contract with Boston-based food management company Unidine, which took effect in January. This year, Wyckoff began growing 25 varieties of vegetables, herbs and fruit in 35 planters for use in its café for visitors and employees, and it ran a farmer's market for the community. At the hospital's "hydration station," Unidine served a beet, cucumber and carrot-infused water, made with Wyckoff's own beets. "People were amazed," said Terance Lee, Unidine general manager at Wyckoff. Growing their own food can also save hospitals money. One of Unidine's client hospitals spent $300 growing $1,600 worth of food.—R.S.