Even Hospitals Can Be Green!

Tucson Medical Center is a vast and expansive facility covering some 120 acres of Northeast Tucson, Arizona. But tucked away in a small fenced in area far from the emergency room or any surgical facility, is the hospital’s community garden.

“It’s less than a quarter of an acre,” said Sylvia Brown, a Community Outreach Specialist at TMC. “It’s not very big at all.”

The garden is actually 5,680 square feet—it was the old children’s playground.  The playground equipment was removed and donated, and the garden began taking shape in mid-September, 2009.
The community garden has been in existence since September 2009 at TMC and has always been maintained by volunteers and employees.   The Community Garden Committee meets Wednesday mornings and the core committee discussions are centered around everything from increased employee involvement to distribution to planting and harvesting schedules. The garden is maintained year-around, even in the extreme summer heat of the Southern Arizona desert.

“We’re not master gardeners at all,” Brown continued. “We just network around the hospital and find people that are interested in getting involved. There has been quite a bit of enthusiasm from people, especially the people who regularly take home things from the garden.”

Brown said the garden fruits and vegetables, which range from Tomatoes, squash, melons, zucchini, peaches, grapes, grapefruit, lemons, various herbs and more, have been distributed each week to departments to get the word out to the hospital employees that there is a garden and opportunity to volunteer . The distribution is even green, as employee gardeners send out the fruits and vegetables in recycled boxes previously used to deliver paper to the hospital. The fruits and vegetables have been harvested daily or as needed by garden committee members and there is also a blog about the garden on the employee intranet.

The garden is now part of a TMC employee healthy living initiative according to Brown, whereby they are asking their thousands of employees to get healthy and fit, recycle and live a more sustainable lifestyle. And the little garden tucked far away from the fast pace and urgency of the Tucson Medical Center is helping the employees do just that.

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