St. Joseph’s Hospital, straddling the line between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Michigan, has started an exciting new project. They’ve agreed to convert 30 acres of their 364-acre campus back to its original use: farming. This past spring they hired Dan Blair to be their ‘farm manager’ and he’s working on phase 1 of the project. Since April, they’ve built a hoop house which now houses many healthy tomato and pepper plants. They’ve also plowed an area of exposed field where they’ll grow tomatoes and other vegetables. Plans to build a second hoop house are in the works.
It’s an exciting paradigm shift to see that a major healthcare provider is investing in health and wellness by converting some of their land to grow healthy food. They do not intend to feed the patients in the hospital with what they’ll be growing, but they are holding a weekly farmers market inside the hospital that has been met with great enthusiasm. On their first day of selling produce in the hospital, they sold out in 20 minutes. “It was a mad-dash of white coats and scrubs” said Dan. That’s proof that the people who work there are hungry for access to fresh food. As their project grows and they’re able to bring more to the market, hopefully patients and visitors as well as the staff will be able to buy seasonal produce.