Michigan hospital cultivates crops for healthy eating

Saint Joseph Mercy Health’s farm-to-tray program thriving

June 13—Saint Joseph Mercy Health System is part of a growing national movement to give hospital food a good name. The Ypsilanti, Michigan, hospital has its own tiny farm with a pair of hoop houses for growing crops year-round and a weekly farmer's market that regularly sells out of produce and cut flowers.

"We know our patients can't get well on a package of pudding with 50 ingredients and few vitamins and minerals. They need food rich in micronutrients. Those are best prepared from fresh food," says Lisa McDowell, MS, RD, CNSD. The four-acre farm debuted in April 2010 with a single hoop house with a 300-square-foot footprint. A second hoop house was added later that year.

Over the course of the year, the farm grows chard, kale, root vegetables, salad mix, garlic, carrots, cilantro and radishes.

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