Hospitals treat the sick and injured day in and day out. They are not the most comfortable places to sleep, and am sure we can all agree, are not home to the healthiest of foods either. The canned and frozen vegetables, as well as the pre-sealed fruit cups might soon be a thing of the past!
A West Bloomfield, Michigan 160-acre medical campus is now home to a 1,500 square foot greenhouse, growing its own organic produce for patient consumption since September. The Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital can now offer its patients fresh tomatoes, lettuce, peppers, eggplant, peas, beans, strawberries, etc., along with organic herbs as well. All of the produce is grown from untreated seeds and using sustainable growing procedures. Along with the certified greenhouse, is a farmer hired to manage the greenhouse facility and the produce. The hospital hopes to focus more on patient wellness, as well as cutting its own food costs annually. In fact, they have projected an overall food cost savings of $20,000.00, while offering not only the patients, but the staff, healthier meal options. These organic fruits, herbs and vegetables are also being sold at the Henry Ford’s Bloomfield indoor weekly farmers’ market, open to the public seasonally.
The Henry Ford West Bloomfield Greenhouse uses hydroponics to grow their produce. Why hydroponics? Well for starters, this method avoids the hospital having to compromise on space, while still offering produce variety. Hydroponics reduces the risks of pests and diseases due to lack of soil, eliminates the use of harmful chemicals, uses only 10% of the water used in a traditional soil greenhouses, all of which shed significant costs for this facility. Utilizing hydroponics also improves control over plant health ensuring quality produce.
The greenhouse is equipped with automated roof vents and window shades which automatically adjust to temperature, wind and light. It is also equipped with an automated alarm and communication system that sends alerts to the farmer’s cell phone when there are power disruptions or if temperatures exceed set defaults.
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