Lisa Hoare is the gardener at the UVM Medical Center.

Here at the UVM Medical Center, we enjoy reaping what we’ve sown.

Beginning in early April, the UVM Medical Center’s Executive Chef, Richard Jarmusz, along with several volunteers from his department, started seedlings in one of the greenhouses up at the UVM Horticulture Farm.  They sowed seeds of eggplant, leeks, Florence fennel, Genovese basil, tiger melons, worty squash and lemon squash.  The seedlings were then diligently cared for by the staff and students who manage the UVM greenhouses and planted in three locations:

    • The Healing Garden, outside of the Radiology/Oncology wing;
    • The Rooftop Garden next to the Ambulatory Care Center(on the roof of the new Radiation Oncology facility);
    • and in the vegetable garden plot at Fanny Allen

In spite of a somewhat rainy spring, the vegetables (and the gardeners!) have enjoyed a gorgeous Vermont summer full of bright sunshine and well-timed rainfalls that have helped us grow a bounty of colorful produce.  In fact, we have harvested over 430 pounds to date including such delights as alpine strawberries, black currants, blueberries and plums to Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, English cucumbers, green beans and eggplants!

The harvest continues along with the sowing.  A crop of fennel harvested last week will Planting seeds.soon be replaced by baby beets and later in the fall, garlic for harvest next summer.  An early crop of bright swiss chard was recently replanted with carrots and spicy arugula and a cold season leaf crop will be put in this week which will produce through fall.

These delectable and quite locally grown treasures can be found at both the Harvest Café in McClure Lobby and the Main Street Café on Baird 3, both on our Medical Center Campus, as well as the Dunbar Café at Fanny Allen.  While we’re not currently able to produce enough of any one crop to be a main supplier, the fruits and vegetables raised from our gardens have been highlighted throughout the season on the salad bars, on flatbreads, in omelets and desserts and have increased our offerings of healthful, organically grown vegetables picked at the height of ripeness and used immediately for the best taste and nutrient content.

Though enjoyed by our patients, their families and our coworkers, it is not only the food itself that has given sustenance.  All season, while battling the wood sorrel, dandelions and crabgrass, I’ve heard visitors and employees alike share the pleasure and interest they’ve experienced watching the plants grow and in having a place of beauty and abundance to come to while waiting for loved ones, or simply waiting.

Alpine strawberries

About a month ago, a mother and daughter joined me in the Rooftop Garden and I watched with a smile on my face as the little girl of about six, after galloping up the steps, headed directly over to the ripe, alpine strawberries.  They didn’t see me until after a few minutes of hunting and devouring the sugary, red globes when a noise made them turn around.  There was a look of surprise followed by guilt on their faces, which I promptly dismissed with a laugh of my own.  It was a pleasure to see them enjoying the sunshiny sweetness of the fruit (which I was pretty familiar with myself!).  The daughter ran over to play in the children’s garden and her mother came closer to tell me how much she and her daughter have enjoyed coming to see the plants and flowers during their visits over the last several weeks.  She mentioned how much it has helped them to have something to look forward to.

Whether seeds of eggplant or seeds of joy, the garden provides nourishment to body and soul and, as all of us here, I’m glad I could make a contribution.

Lisa Hoare is the gardener at the UVM Medical Center. Learn more about Sustainable Nutrition at the UVM Medical Center. 


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