Construction of the first 30'x96' hoop house began this week. A second house will be constructed later this summer. According to hopsital planners, a dozen or more of the structures will be built in the coming yesrs.
Vegetables grown on the farm land will be used in the hospital cafeteria, in meal preparation for patients and sold at a farmers market on the hospital grounds. Excess food will be donated to "Food Gatherers" a local food bank.
Draft horses assist with tilling the fertile earth
A team of draft horses helped with the effort to convert about an acre of the hopsital campus to productive farm land.
“The Sisters of Mercy made the visionary decision in the early 70s to move the hospital from Ann Arbor to the 356-acre plot in Superior Township. It is because of their foresight that we are able to have this fantastic opportunity,” explained Rob Casalou, president and CEO of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, Saline and Livingston hospitals. “We are excited to be able to use the land in its original form.”
“Initially, we will sell the produce at a farmer’s market held at the hospital. As the farmland expands, we will integrate the vegetables grown on our land to the cafeteria and patient menus. This is an opportunity for us to live our mission and provide healthy food to the poor and hungry in our community,” concludes Casalou.
The hospital program will welcome Michigan State University organic farming specialists, and local farmers to the hospital campus to prepare and nurture the farmland project.
The first hoop house under construction
The first hoop house and garden will grow vegetables including tomatoes, basil, broccoli, lettuces, and peppers. Future plans call for a greater variety of vegetables and a fruit orchard on the property.
“When it comes to healthy eating, one of the most difficult aspects for people is finding quality produce at a reasonable cost,” says Lisa McDowell registered dietitian, St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor. “We get many consultation requests from patients hoping to lose weight and begin living healthier lifestyles. Opening a farmer’s market featuring home-grown produce is a great way to enhance the healthy eating habits of people in our community.”
HouseBlend salutes Saint Joseph Mercy Health System for this amazing project!