Boston Medical Center is providing a lot more than just medical care to its patients. The hospital boasts a thriving rooftop garden which provides 7000 pounds of organic veggies to people each year.
The 2500-square-foot farm is home to kale, collard greens, bok choy, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, eggplant, beans, squash and a wide variety of herbs.
All the plants are grown in organic soil in recycled milk crates and are pollinated by two onsite beehives as well. The beehives serve the dual-purpose of nourishing the plants and providing a home to bees.
David Maffeo, the hospital’s senior director of support services, told Modern Farmer:
“Food is medicine. That’s why we’re doing what we’re doing. Most urban environments are food deserts. It’s hard to get locally grown food and I think it’s something that we owe to our patients and our community.”
The farm is maintained using composting techniques. Lindsay Allen, a farmer who manages the rooftop farm, explained “I try to think of this farm as an ecosystem as much as possible. How do we keep all of the scraps that we aren’t actually using for food on-site so that we can continue to create soil and compost up here?”
Allen also said 72 percent of the hospital’s patients are considered underserved and thus often don’t have access to healthy, locally sourced food. The farm is trying to change that.
“I generally feel that hospital food is pretty terrible and gross, which I always find ironic since that’s where we are sick and at our most vulnerable and we need to be nourished,” Allen said.
Boston Medical Center also offers free gardening, cooking, and nutrition classes, as well as free food to low-income families. That way, they can offer the community a more holistic wellness program to prevent them from having to come to the hospital in the first place.