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Rooftop garden at hospital to benefit patients and community


The rooftop adjacent to the Women and Children’s Unit at the Aberdeen Hospital is about to get much prettier thanks to a number of partners.

From left are Sue Arsenault, nurse, Public Health; Susan Malcolm, Aberdeen Health Foundation; Jane Marshall, Aberdeen Hospital Auxiliary; Martin Fisher, Volunteer and Community Health Board Co-ordinator; Tanya Antle, Nurse, Public Health; and Kelley Cavan, nutritionist, Public Health.

Staff of the Women and Children’s Unit with the support of Public Health, the Hospital Auxiliary, hospital volunteers, and the Aberdeen Health Foundation are coming together to create a community garden. The space already has 20 small raised beds that were used in the past but have not been planted in recent years.

The costs of raised beds and deer fencing are usually the most expensive parts of a community garden. The rooftop space has these two expenses taken care of, so it will be a relatively low-cost project, with lots of benefits.

Tanya Antle, public health nurse says, “This collaborative project allows us to model the concept of community gardening to staff, physicians, volunteers, and patients. By starting a garden on the hospital rooftop it helps to show others that gardening is possible anywhere. The hope is that the garden will provide motivation and inspiration to others and to showcase the fruits, vegetables, and flowers that will be grown.”

“The project will give back two-fold. Half of the beds will be planted with flowers to beautify the space,” explains Kelley Cavan, public health nutritionist. “The other half will contain vegetables, which will be donated back to members of the community through groups such as the Pictou County Food Bank. Patients in the hospital will be able to enjoy the beauty of the plants and watch them grow, and fresh produce will be provided to those who need it.”

“Evidence shows that viewing plants and flowers for just a few minutes daily can increase immunity and boost healing,” says Debbie MacDonald, manager of the women’s and children’s health unit. “With labouring mothers in the unit, gardens that can help reduce anxiety, discomfort and induce relaxation are beneficial. Patients of other units can benefit as well “Now with some bees, sun and rain we are looking forward to a wonderful mixture of food and flowers for all to enjoy.”

Martin Fisher, who co-ordinates volunteers for the hospital said it did not take long for him to find volunteers willing to step forward to be a part of this project, “We have a fantastic pool of willing volunteers who are interested in improving the experience at the Aberdeen for both clients and staff.”

The garden project was generously funded by the Hospital Auxiliary and the Aberdeen Health Foundation with support from Central Supplies in Stellarton.

“The Auxiliary was happy to provide funding for this project – it adds beauty to our hospital, comfort for our patients and locally produced, delicious food for the food bank,” says Sharon MacDonald.

Speaking on behalf of the Aberdeen Health Foundation, Susan Malcolm says, “We love to partner to improve health and wellness in our community. We all look forward to watching the garden grow.”

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