Hospital Workers Appreciate Chance to Grow Their Own Veggies
Valerie Ward, a medical staff secretary at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca, enjoys the opportunity to get outside during her breaks and work on her little plot inside the hospital’s community garden.
“I look at the space as a ‘gift’ – not just from ThedaCare, but from something bigger that allows me to create a place that is just a little nicer than how I found it,” she said.
The ThedaCare community garden space for its employees opened three years ago. Each spring, employees can sign up for one of the 12 10-by-10 garden plots, said Marci Reynolds, supervisor of health and wellness at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca.
“Everyone does something different with their plot,” she said. “One person has a beautiful herb garden while another has nearly all climbing peas on their plot. It is just a lot of fun.”
Waupaca Community Garden volunteers rototill the garden each spring and employees use water via a hose from the former school building. There’s also a small donated garden shed onsite that holds tools such as rakes, hoes and wheelbarrows. The garden is located by the former Riverview school adjacent to the hospital and now part of the ThedaCare campus.
“ThedaCare provides us with all the materials and tools we need to grow good food for ourselves, friends and families,” Ward said. “We are truly blessed.”
Elis Long, a registered nurse in the OB department at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca, also appreciates having the garden. “I like to be unplugged from all devices and go tackle those darn weeds. It is also fun to see how each person does what they do,” she said.
The garden also includes a bench and flowers and a shade tree, Reynolds said. “It is close enough to the hospital so you can go out there to work or just go out and sit,” she said. “It is nice out there and a great way to get some nature therapy. I even had a few meetings out there.”
Reynolds, who grows a variety of produce including kale, carrots, onions, green beans and basil on her plot, said the garden has its roots in a series of pots where she and her staff grew different vegetables that was located outside of the hospital.
“We wanted to show our patients how easy it was to grow healthy foods,” she said. “After the pot garden, the hospital administration showed us this space and asked if we wanted it. Of course, we did. They put up a fence and got the area ready for us to use. It was cool how it came together.”
For more than 100 years, ThedaCare™ has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose as well as 32 clinics in nine counties. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service. The ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton opened in February 2016. For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.