I've been quieter on the blog than usual - I blame boards and finals mainly, but also I've just been enjoying my time with the sunshine on the canal, and driving home for yummy homemade meals, and sharing good laughs with the parentals. While I have a recipe for you that will definitely show up later this week, I wanted to tell you about a neat place that is literally only a 15 minute walk away from my apartment. And get this, it's at a hospital.
Last Wednesday (Earth Day!), I went on a lunch tour at the Eskenazi Health Sky Farm, a super duper neat garden that's on the roof of the hospital. When I first heard of it in August, I thought it was just a small flower garden for aesthetics. Guh, Erica, it's a farm - it's more than just flowers, it grows food! And food that the hospital utilizes each day. The asparagus is being harvested right now, and they're growing lettuce, kale, radishes, berries, mustard greens, and tons of other produce that will soon be ready for eating. Even though it was a little chilly and windy on the 7th floor rooftop that day, I couldn't help hopping around each corner of the garden and seeing what else was planted in the soil.
But possibly just as cool as the farm itself was the message that was brought by the medical director of Eskenazi Hospital, Dr. Lisa Harris - the purpose of the farm and what it means in the context of healthcare. She emphasized that healthcare isn't just the prescriptions, the diagnostic tests, the treatments. It's about being well, perhaps well enough that we can avoid many illnesses altogether. Rather than practicing medicine after the disease arrives, she wants to prevent it from even knocking at the door. In a funny way, Dr. Harris wants to put herself out of business.
The farm allows us to practice this concept of preventative medicine. It's produce provides nourishment to the staff and patients of the hospital. It motivates them to eat a little more health consciously, and to appreciate the food that is grown locally. It encourages rehabilitating patients to get out of bed, walk around the garden, and put their hands in the soil. It refreshes beat-down, discouraged souls with its fresh air and beautiful scenery. We can become well without what we consider to be standard medicine, and we can stay well.
And Dr. Harris' hopes for instilling this mentality aren't just wishes - we're actually seeing results. Since the opening of Eskenazi Hospital last year, 50% of the cafeteria sales are actually salads, not pizza or burgers. Almost 100% of the produce used in the hospital is from local farms. They have seen a 30% reduction in sodium intake. This is just one year, everyone. Imagine what we can do in twenty.
I have not felt so motivated as I do now, especially given the stressful past few months it has been leading up to such a huge exam. The visit to the Sky Farm reminded me of many things - to keep eating healthy, to enjoy the outdoors, and to surround myself with support. Dr. Harris wrapped up the talk with this statement: in order to take care of patients, we need to learn how to take care of ourselves.
I do not think this could be any more true.
The farm is open to the public, and I believe they sell their produce in the summertime! I would most definitely recommend checking out this amazing place, whether it's to buy vegetables or even get inspired.
Have a wonderful, happy week friends.