For well over 100 years, Frederick Memorial Hospital has focused on treating
and curing those who are ill, promoting healthy and fulfilling lifestyles,
preventing illness, and increasing the quality of life in Frederick County.
This philosophy inspired the FMH Green Team, a group of employees focused
on finding ways for the hospital to implement more sustainable practices,
to spend six years creating and organizing the HOOD-FMH Resource Garden.
What began as a simple idea from Green Team member Suzanne Jacobson, a
graduate of Hood College, has grown into the collaborative effort of Hood
College and FMH to construct a pollinator-friendly garden that supports
people in the Frederick area who may not have access to fresh vegetables.
“Our job is to take care of you when you become ill, but that’s
only part of it. We also want to encourage the healthy habits that help
you get and stay well. Promoting healthier eating through our Community
Resource Garden is one way we’re doing that.” said FMH Senior
Vice President and garden volunteer, Cheryl Cioffi.
The idea came to full bloom in a previously vacant, overgrown lot at the
end of Park Avenue. Jacobson would pass this patch of land on her daily
runs, noticing the trash and weeds that covered the ground, as well as
the potential for a more productive space. Today,
the lot is bustling with 13 vegetable plots growing crops like radishes, peppers, melons,
cucumber and eggplant.
In addition to these vegetables, the garden has a strip of pollinator-friendly
flowers, like purple coneflowers and tall verbenas. These flowers have
the dual purpose of providing both a pleasing view and attracting pollinator
bees and monarch butterflies.
Creating a place that would benefit both the people and wildlife of Frederick
was important to the creators of the garden. With a habitat designed to
attract these influential bugs, their endangered populations have a place
to thrive. The resource garden is now a Certified Monarch Garden by the
North American Butterfly Association due to the efforts made to provide
resources that increase Monarch populations.
The process of cultivating the resource garden has been no easy task. It
took an impressive team of 76 volunteers, from both Hood College and Frederick
Memorial Hospital, donating 385 hours of their own time to generate the
1,500 pounds of produce that was harvested in 2017. The plots are divided
among the FMH and Hood volunteers while Hood’s student club, HEAT
(Hood’s Environmental Action Team), maintains the flower garden.
The collection of produce from 2017 was distributed to Frederick Food
Bank, Frederick Rescue Mission, Catoctin & Manor View and Taney Village
Senior apartments, and Kline Hospice House.
According to the
Harvard School of Public Health, the average person should aim to consume five servings of vegetables
and fruits per day. The Hood-FMH Resource Garden makes that possible for
many people who would otherwise not have access to fresh produce.
In low-income neighborhoods, access to fresh and affordable vegetables
is slim. By growing and donating produce, FMH is ensuring that these populations
get the nutritional components they need to stay nourished.
The health benefits of garden produced food are not only for food-insecure
populations; access to fresh and homegrown produce is valuable for all
consumers. Personal gardens remove many of the chemicals and pesticides
used in the mass production of produce from conventional farming, making
the food safer and better tasting. By growing your own food, you ensure
that what you are putting into your body is safe and chemical-free.
Additionally, studies have also shown that organically grown vegetables
have greater levels of essential trace minerals like calcium, iron, potassium,
and magnesium. Filling your body with the natural vitamins and minerals
it requires keeps your systems running properly while removing the need
to take daily supplements to fill the gaps.
If taste, nutrition, and reduction of chemicals aren’t reason enough,
gardening your own vegetables can easily reduce your monthly grocery bill.
The sense of accomplishment in growing your own food puts your mind in
the right state for promoting health.
In the future, the team from the Hood-FMH Resource Garden Project hopes
to expand the number of plots to generate larger harvests and collaborate
with the Frederick Food Security Network on outreach strategies. Working
together, folks involved with the resource garden will increase the availability
of healthy produce to Frederick residents-in-need in the coming years.
If you want to read more about the Hood-FMH Resource Garden or are interested
in starting a plot of your own, visit fmh.org and search