Exploring the therapeutic benefits of food gardens at Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital, in Alexandria, Ontario
As a leading innovator in the delivery of hospital rehab services, Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital (HGMH) is home to an expansive therapeutic garden, established as an extension of the Stroke Rehabilitation department. The garden has been expanding slowly since 2011, and this past year—in collaboration with Project SOIL—the growing area almost doubled in size. In 2015, the garden team produced over fifty varieties of fruits, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers, using SPIn techniques and organic practices.
While they are consistently imagining ways to expand production and in-house use of fresh food, the team at HGMH is also looking to future projects — including working with researchers at Carleton University to develop tools to assess the preventative and therapeutic benefits of edible gardens.
Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital
On-site food production will increase this year at the Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital in Alexandria, with the intent of testing and improving the therapeutic benefits of participation in food production, while increasing access to healthy, local, seasonal food for staff and patients. This project will build from an existing garden project, with the intent of adding SPIn production in the near future, relying on the techniques and design of Jean-Martin Fortier, as laid out in The Market Gardener; A Successful Growers’ Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming.
Project SOIL is looking for a motivated Master’s or senior-level student to participate in and fully document the development of this pilot project over the course of 400-520 hours, between May 1 and August 31.
The student will work 30 hours per week. Start / completion dates are flexible, as are days per week. Pay rate dependent upon experience. The student will be expected to participate in the production on-site, as well as planning for future on-site SPIn production. The student will produce a complete case study which will be part of a joint academic publication. This position will require a successful police check.
For more details of the site and Hospital, contact:
Emergency Preparedness Coordinator & Project Management
Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital
20260 County Road 43/ Chemin de comté 43
Å: (613) 525-2222 ext 4112
The Glengarry News,
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
A hands-on “green” program is flourishing at the local hospital. Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital (HGMH) is participating in one of five pilot projects across the province to study how public institutions can also become food producers.
Linda Morrow, HGMH CEO, said the Alexandria hospital was chosen to participate in the Project SOIL (Shared Opportunities for Institutional Land) initiative in October. The program is investigating the feasibility of using institutional land to grow organic produce by examining on-site food production systems already in place at Ontario institutions.
The hospital foundation received $2,000 from the study organizers to expand the hospital’s garden, which was started following reception of a $25,000 Healthy Communities Fund grant from the province in 2011.
Rehab patients, primarily those recovering from strokes, have, along with staff, tended the garden located behind the hospital. Given patient mobility and access concerns, the outdoor garden consists of ground-level and raised beds which contain a wide range of produce, including cabbage, cucumbers, peppers, shallots, squash and tomatoes, as well as various herbs.
Produce grown in the garden is incorporated into patient and staff meals.
Ms. Morrow said the hospital is using the grant to build another aisleway in the garden to allow for easier access for wheelchair-bound patients. She added that the hospital is also looking into other related initiatives.
“Eventually what we want to do is engage our local farmers to participate with us and combine the hospital-grown produce with a current supplier,” Ms. Morrow explained.
“Having a positive impact on clinical outcomes in the rehab program, being recognized as a leader in green health-care initiatives, and demonstrating that we’re a key player in the buy local movement” were other possible off-shoots of growing the garden initiative through Project SOIL.
Chantal Mageau-Pinard, the hospital’s manager of physiotherapy and rehabilitation services, said that many rehab patients feel right at home amongst the veggies and herbs. “Most of these people have been farmers, or are used to working in gardens four or five times larger than this one,” she said recently. “So it’s familiar territory for them.”
Besides HGMH, others participating in Project SOIL are KW Habilitation in Kitchener-Waterloo and GreenWerks Garden at Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital in Thunder Bay; Homewood Health Centre in Guelph and the Food School Farm at Centre Wellington District High School in Fergus.
The joint research team will study the skills that people can gain from participating in on-site food production, as well as the impact of channelling fresh local produce into institutional food supplies, at KW Habilitation and GreenWerks Garden.
At HGMH and Homewood Health Centre, the team will study mostly therapeutic benefits, while the Food School Farm is participating in an agro-ecological program.
SOIL is sponsored by Carleton University, University of Guelph and Wilfrid Laurier University and is supported by My Sustainable Canada.
Led by postdoctoral researchers Phil Mount and Irena Knezevic, this three-year project will look at the viability of on-site food production at public institutions, through collaborative arrangements with local food producers.
Project SOIL is funded by the New Directions Research Program of the Ontario Ministries of Agriculture and Food and Rural Affairs.
The project builds on emerging production models that can flexibly adapt to institutional resources (including SPIn or Small Plot Intensive farming), as well as land tenure models that could contribute to community food production, health and well-being – such as Lakehead Psychiatric Hospital’s donation of land to a social-purpose business (GreenWerks) that grows food for the hospital, local markets, and food bank.
The feasibility of alternatives will be explored by:
- surveying public institutions to identify capacity to support food production;
- interviewing institutional key informants to understand opportunities/constraints; and
- performing in-depth site analyses to explore food production models and cooperative opportunities with existing local food networks.
Case studies and cost/revenue flows will help to guide three innovative and groundbreaking food production pilot projects. These pilots will test the therapeutic benefits at gardens on the properties of Hôpital Glengarry Memorial Hospital -which focuses on post acute stroke rehabilitation- and Homewood Health Centre, a leading addiction and mental health treatment facility. The multiple values of the food and synergistic benefits produced from the soil on these properties will be explored at these health facilities, and also at the Food School Farm, Centre Wellington District High School’s radical participatory agroecological education program that looks to produce “critical and confident food growers and consumers”.
Return often; this site will expand organically, reflecting the growth of the project.