Hamilton Health Sciences' Hamilton General Hospital (HGH) and Population Health Research Institute (PHRI), have recently announced a partnership with Hamilton Victory Gardens to launch a community vegetable garden on the downtown hospital campus.
HGH and PHRI have come together with a mutual goal of giving back to the community. Since patients at the Regional Rehabilitation Centre had previously participated in sessions with Hamilton Victory Gardens, it prompted the idea of modifying the original garden plans to make it accessible and functional for patients.
"We are so thrilled about the new community garden," says Kathie Elstone, therapeutic recreationist at the Regional Rehabilitation Centre. "Whether our patients are gardeners or not, regardless of the rehabilitation required, we'll be able to use the garden to help with recovery. Since gardening is a functional activity, it can encourage a patient in a wheelchair to stand or a patient with a prosthetic leg practice their balance. These are just some of the many benefits."
Hamilton Victory Gardens is a volunteer based program whereby unused urban areas around Hamilton are converted into gardens to grow produce for local food banks and meal programs. Since it began in 2011, over 175,000 pounds of fresh produce have been harvested from 15 garden sites and donated to 13 organizations and programs including Good Shepherd, Mission Services, Neighbour to Neighbour, and Living Rock. Always looking to build more gardens, the organization was very receptive to the idea of building on the HGH Campus, especially given the potential for therapeutic benefits.
The HGH Campus Community Garden consists of 11 garden beds at a variety of heights to accommodate working from a wheel chair as well as standing. While Hamilton Victory Gardens assisted with the building of the garden and provided a planting plan, PHRI has set up volunteer sessions available to all campus staff who will ensure the regular maintenance over time.
"Four years ago, Teresa Smith, our VP Adult Regional Care set us on a journey to be more engaged in our community," says Ann Higgins, senior consultant for improvement, innovation and alignment at HGH. "This garden allows us to do just that since all the produce is donated locally. But just as important, it serves two other strategic goals for HHS: promoting teamwork and engaging staff across the entire campus; and, offering innovative therapy for our rehabilitation patients."
Staff and patients alike are looking forward to the progress and ultimately seeing the "vegetables of their labours".