Children’s Hospital Colorado grows garden and community

Children's Hospital Colorado gardenDr. Christina Suh Children’s Hospital Colorado and food security council member, speaks at the launch of the  Healthy Roots Garden, 
joined by Heidi Baskfield, Children’s vice president of population health and advocacy. (Children's Hospital Colorado)

by Amber Hansen

Since the fall of 2018, the Healthy Roots Garden has grown near the main entrance of the Children’s Hospital Colorado. It is not only a symbol of food as medicine but also of the power of collaboration. Katie O’Connor, Children’s health promotions program manager spent years advocating for the garden, along the way engaging leadership, community members, and staff from across the hospital to turn this vision into a reality.

Now there is 3,000 square feet of growing space divided into 22 raised beds – a micro-farm plot focused on high-yield production. Children’s Hospital, a Practice Greenhealth member, hopes to build on the momentum of the garden with the launch of the mobile, SNAP-accessible Healthy Roots Farm Cart in the spring and Healthy Roots Food Clinic, a food pharmacy, in the fall.

Childrens Hospital CO_garden_raised bedsFour of the raised beds are built at different heights that are made to be adaptive for various wheelchairs. (Children's Hospital Colorado)

Keeping with the collaborative spirit, production and programming will be managed by both volunteers and staff. Community partners will also be involved to provide education and other related opportunities. Children’s hopes that these projects will demonstrate the positive impact that a health care institution can have on patients and families above and beyond clinical care.

Childrens Hospital CO_garden shedChristiana Lambert is a former patient and now professional artist who donated her skills
and time to paint the shed at the Healthy Roots Garden. (Children's Hospital Colorado)

To Reuben Gregory, Children’s food security specialist the garden’s benefits seem endless:

“The garden provides the opportunity to connect people to food, talk about food as medicine, get people’s hands in the soil and connect them to the earth, teach people about agriculture, and see people experience a freshly-picked tomato over a store bought one,” he says, “the list goes on.”

Learn more about hospital gardens

Amber Hansen is Health Care Without Harm's Healthy Food in Health Care Western regional coordinator.