What they do: The Grow2Heal Community Garden at Homestead Hospital in South Florida has been growing produce to feed patients, staff, and the community since 2014. The year-round garden grows organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, fruit trees, and native flowers. The garden manager, Thi Squire, also hosts field trips and educational workshops to teach children and adults about maintaining a garden, growing produce, and cooking healthy meals with fresh produce to help manage or prevent chronic disease.
The goal of the garden is to grow fresh produce 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 provides better health and wellness choices for the hospital’s patients, visitors, employees, and local organizations in need. The harvest is about 6,000 pounds annually, and almost 50 percent of what the garden produces is for patient consumption. The remaining half is used for education.
In addition, the hospital’s garden is re-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.
How they do it: The garden is located on more than an acre of land east of the main hospital building. The produce grows in raised, irrigated garden beds, and seedlings grow in sheds heated by solar panels. Crops include beans, cauliflower, carrots, tomatoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, and cucumbers.
The Grow Your Lunch field trip program introduces students to fruits and vegetables in new shapes and colors, teaches the fundamentals of nutrition, and provides an opportunity for them to cook and eat produce from the garden.
Mission: To help people make better nutritional choices to improve their health and prevent disease.
Major Funding: Young Philanthropists of Baptist Health, The NASCAR Foundation
Acres of Land Managed: 2 to 3 acres
Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect the food system: The Grow2Heal garden provides nearly 3,000 pounds of food for patient consumption.
975 Baptist Way
Homestead, Florida 33033
Grow2Heal gardens are also located at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables, and West Kendall and South Miami Hospitals, both in Miami.
Core Programs: Community garden, educational workshops, school field trips
Number of staff: 1
Number of volunteers: 100
Areas served: South Florida
Year Started: 2014
Manager: Thi Squire
Contact Information: HHGrow2Heal@baptisthealth.net
- AnniversaTree (YouTube)
- Basil Harvest (YouTube)
- For Baptist Health South Florida, Every Day is Earth Day (Baptist Health South Florida)
- Grow2Heal (Edible South Florida)
- Grow 2 Heal 2 Master (YouTube)
- Homestead Hospital Teaches the Power of Plants (Eat Drink Better)
- Hospital Grows its Own Food, Serves it to Patients (The Gainesville Sun)
- Hospital Harnesses the Healing Power of Food (Local 10)
- Hospital’s Healing Garden Grows Fresh Produce for its Kitchen and Medicinal Plants to Help Patients (Food Management)
- Integrative Medicine: Healing the Whole Person (Baptist Health South Florida)
- Miami Proud: Community Garden Grows Produce For Hospital Food, Provides Lessons In Healthy Eating (CBS Miami)
- Tackling Our Healthcare Crisis by Growing Food with Thi Squire (Plant Yourself)
- Thi Squire (Health Channel)