St. Luke's Hospital Goes Really Local With Its Own Organic Farm

Back in 2006, we wrote that some hospitals were finally moving to organic and locally sourced food – now that’s becoming common and at least one is starting its own farm!

In Pennsylvania, organic pioneer Rodale Institute will run a farm at St. Luke’s Anderson Campus. Starting small with just five acres, it will produce 44,000 pounds of vegetables and herbs next year, and then 100,000 pounds on 10 acres in following years.

Lettuce, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, summer squash, Swiss chard, kale, garlic, cabbage, beets, potatoes and a variety of herbs will be distributed to six St. Luke hospitals in the area. An 1120 square foot greenhouse extends the growing season. A farmer will transition the land to organic and oversee USDA certification.

Organic Farm Hospital

"The farm will act as an evolving model for institutions across the country as well as for farmers who have the knowledge but lack the resources to start their own farm," says Lynn Trizna, Rodale’s farmer. Her three staff members are all aspiring farmers.

"This partnership presents a ‘farm to hospital’ model which can be replicated around the world. We’re proud to be proving concepts once thought impossible," says Mark Smallwood, Executive Director of Rodale.

Since its founding in 1947, Rodale has been a pioneer on research and demonstration projects that prove the value of sustainable agriculture and organic food for peoples’ health and the planet.

It’s Farming Systems Trial is the longest-running side-by-side comparison of chemical and organic agriculture. The study has consistently shown that organic yields match or surpass those of conventional farming, and are about 30% higher in years of drought. Current research is on rates of carbon sequestration in chemical versus organic plots, new techniques for weed suppression and organic livestock.

Since the non-profit hospital opened in 2011, St. Luke’s has put in walking paths, flower gardens and community garden plots for employees.

Read our article, Greening Hospitals Would Cut Health Care Costs.

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