US (NJ): Hospital greenhouse grows healthy food for community

Tiny peppers, with leaves waving proudly, may not hold a whole lot of meaning for the average New Jersey backyard gardener. But in the South Ward of Newark, inside less than 2,000 square feet of space, this greenhouse is changing the way of life for a community.

“You can’t teach people how to eat if you don’t have the food to provide to them. So, down in an urban environment like Newark, or what they consider a food desert, there is a lot of food insecurity. So this is a way to tie everything together and connect it with your health and wellness,” said Barbara Mintz, senior vice-president for healthy living and community engagement at RWJ Barnabas Health.

The Beth Greenhouse, located just next door to Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, pumps out more than 10,000 pounds of food a year. Employees teach nutrition education, farming and cooking. It’s got all the staples, including kale, zucchini, tomatoes and basil. But in a unique format, the hospital sells it right in the outpatient lobby once a week.

“We harvest it every week and we bring it into our farmers market, which is in the lobby of our hospital, every Thursday,” said Mintz. “We sell it not only to the employees, but to the community as well, patient families, visitors and so on.”

Read more at NJTV News (Briana Vannozzi)

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