Grow2Heal Community Garden: Food as Medicine in Healthcare Spotlight

by Marissa Sheldon
Grow2Heal

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

Profit/nonprofit: Nonprofit

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. 

FACT SHEET:

Locations:
Homestead Hospital
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 

Learn More: 

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