The Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital complex includes a number of unusual touches, from its LiveWell retail corridor to its Vita program of yoga and acupuncture services. But none are more innovative than the hydroponic organic greenhouse that sits behind the facility.
Designed with the help of Dr. Howard Resh, who literally wrote the book on hydroponics and developed an organic hydroponic greenhouse operation at Walt Disney’s Epcot Center, the geothermally heated structure produces a steady stream of crops, from tomatoes, peppers and herbs to salad greens and eggplant. They help supply the hospital’s retail and patient dining needs and are also made available at a farmers market hosted weekly by the hospital.
“We try to pick crops that engage children so that they will have credibility when I take them to the demo kitchen,” says Michelle Lutz, the “resident farmer” who operates the greenhouse and conducts hand-on classes for groups of children. The greenhouse is attached to a small conference room where classes can be held. It features interactive exhibits and it’s huge windows let in plenty of light and look out on the lake and woods that abut the hospital.
The greenhouse runs its own bus to transport groups that have don’t have their own transportation.