Hospital sources significant amount of its produce needs from its own backyard.
A growing number of hospitals have flirted with the idea of having their own gardens to grow herbs and some fresh produce. However, the realities of high-volume dining means that for many, other than herbs, such gardens can at most produce one or two ingredients for an occasional special.
But at the Village of Pelham Hospital in Greer, SC, near Spartanburg, Foodservice Manager Sam Kleckley says he is getting most of the tomatoes and cucumbers he uses for salads from a 30-ft. by 80-ft. garden located within sight of the hospital's Dogwood Café retail dining operation as well as some of the patient rooms.
“It supplies a fair amount of my produce needs right now,” he says, noting that the plot, which is tended by Kleckley, Executive Chef Benito Feliciano and volunteers from the hospital staff, is not even at full capacity yet. “We've only planted about two-thirds of it so far,” he says.
Having produce that comes from the garden out back fits in with the philosophy Kleckley, a 34 year veteran of the restaurant industry, has implanted in his dining operation at Pelham, which emphasizes fresh food freshly made. There are five daily specials in the café that utilize the fresh ingredients available at any given time, while the 48 patient beds get room service meals when they want.
The garden was first planted in May and a second planting is scheduled for August. The balmy South Carolina weather allows a growing season that stretches from April into December. Other bounty from the garden has included squash, green peppers and green beans as well as herbs.
Pelham is part of the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, whose foundation arm gave the hospital a $5,000 grant to fence the garden (to keep out the many local deer) and for a shed to store the tools. The garden includes a windmill donated by one employee and a scarecrow in hospital scrubs dubbed a “Medcrow.”