Magee-Womens Hospital Grows with Edible Organize Gardens

Filed under Magee-Womens Hospital

The Magee-Womens Hospital outdoor courtyards have long provided staff, patients and families with sites for solace, contemplation and healing. Now they're also providing fresh, healthy foods.

Over the summer, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC, in Oakland, planted edible organic gardens in the Gift Shop Courtyard, the WomanCare Birth Center Courtyard and the Turtle and Fish Pond area. They were made possible through a gift from the Heinz Endowments, and were designed and implemented with assistance from Phipps Conservatory horticulturalists, who are helping the hospital develop a three-year plan to promote the importance of locally grown foods and organic garden practices.

"We teach our childbearing families that organic produce is beneficial to mothers and babies, as it reduces their exposure to pesticides and fungicides," says Judith Focareta with Magee. "If you advocate something, you've got to model it."

Magee's new gardens feature informational signs by ThoughtForm Design, and about $2,500 of food plants supplied by Garden Dreams Urban Farm & Nursery in Wilkinsburg and Blackberry Meadows Organic Farm. The plants were chosen for their ability to thrive in an organic garden environment that utilizes minimal water and fertilizer applications, and no pesticides.

Magee is one of just a few hospitals in the U.S. to plant and harvest organic herbs and vegetables to feed patients, staff and visitors. According to Magee president Leslie David, the hospital has won six national awards for sustainability initiatives, including one for the recognition of a mercury-free environment, and the 2007 Children's Environmental Health Excellence Award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Children's Health Protection.

Magee celebrated the dedication of the gardens last week in the Gift Shop Courtyard with refreshments prepared using herbs and vegetables grown in the gardens.

Writer: Caralyn Green
Source: Judith Focareta, coordinator of environmental health initiatives, and Leslie David, president, Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC

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