And although gardening season is just about over, it helps to know that there are three entities in the area that are actively involved in providing food to the community as well as patients and hospital staff.
Founded in 2014 and measuring approximately 1,380-sq.-ft. divided into 11 raised garden beds, the Community Garden is a partnership between United Church Outreach Ministry (UCOM), Metro Heath Hospital and the City of Wyoming. Ten of the beds measure 4×8’ and one bed is raised up on legs, positioned near the front gate of the garden allowing mobility impaired gardeners access to fresh, healthy produce.
The Community Garden’s goal is to introduce fresh, organic produce into gardeners’ and their families’ diets. Over 150 lbs of tomatoes, radishes, lettuces, broccoli, collard greens, kale, spinach, carrots and beets are donated to UCOM’s food pantry each year, with much more produced and shared between gardeners, friends and family.
In addition to fighting hunger in the Wyoming community, UCOM helps neighbors build healthy lifestyles beginning with the food they eat. The organization operates one of the largest pantries in the city, Client Choice Food Pantry, located at 1311 Chicago Dr. SW in Wyoming.
People living in the UCOM service area are able to access the pantry once a month and receive a three-day emergency supply of healthful and delicious food. Committed to personal empowerment, UCOM has encouraged people to select their own food for over seven years.
Starting October 1st, 2016, the food pantry is open to those in need on Mondays from 9 am-12 pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 9 am-3 pm, and Thursdays from 2-8 pm. Office hours are Monday through Thursday 9 am-5 pm.
Metro Health Garden works with its culinary team, master gardeners and community volunteers to grow fresh fruits and vegetables to be used in Metro Café’s patient and staff meals. The garden boasts an approximately 4,000-sq.-ft. area of rich, productive soil located east of the Hospital.
After being harvested, the produce is weighed and recorded. This information is used to track yields and productivity, as well as food costs saved by producing food on campus.
“Gardening helps relieve stress and improve mental health,” said Dr. Diana Dillman of Metro Health Jenison. “It is also a great way to get outside and get active. And of course the fresh fruits and vegetables are a healthy, tasty result of all that digging in the dirt.”
All-organic seeds and transplants are used to ensure that the produce is of peak flavor, nutritional value and integrity. A drip irrigation system allows efficient application of water, greatly reducing water waste.
Cooking classes, community presentations, and tours of the garden are open to the public and staff of Metro Health Hospital. Visit the Events Calendar or like us on Facebook for the most up-to-date information. If you are interested in volunteering time in the garden, please contact volunteer services.
The garden also offers educational opportunities for youth and community members. The teaching garden is located behind Metro Health Hospital, in Wyoming. To register for these classes, or any of the other free or low-cost Live Healthy programs, visit Metrohealth.net or call 616.252.7117.
The Metro Health Garden is managed by Metro Health’s Culinary Team and Master Gardeners.