Lehigh Valley

Hospital food goes local, organic

St Luke's and Rodale Institute partner in organic farm project

Hospital food goes local, organic

BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. - You've heard of the "farm to table" movement, but what if that table is a hospital bed?  One local hospital just unveiled its own organic farm.

Lynn Trizna is a new kind of farmer of a new kind of farm.

"We are currently at St. Luke's [Hospital]-Rodale Institute Organic Farm," she said.

Trizna works at a five-acre farm on a hospital campus.

"This is one of the first of its kind -- the first that I've been aware of, where there's a farm on site of a hospital, growing food for patients," she said.

Thursday afternoon, St. Luke's Hospital's Anderson campus in Bethlehem Township unveiled its new farm.  Since the spring, Trizna and a small army of three others have quiently cultivated the crops here.  They plan to harvest 44,000 pounds of kale, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, and other organic crops, this year alone.

And this is just the beginning.  St. Luke's hope  to double the harvest there in just three years.

They do get some help, though.

"We've already had the Girl Scouts out here," said St. Luke's-Anderson president Ed Nawrocki, "and our goal is to get the community more involved in the organic farm itself."

The farm required an initial investment of about $15,000, according to Nawrocki, and has an annual operating budget of about $100,000.  All the food grown at the farm will go to patients and the cafeterias at all six St  Luke's campuses. 

The Rodale Institute hopes to make this farm a national model.

"Where else could you do this?", asked the institute's executive director, "Coach" Mark Smallwood.  "Schools, businesses, assisted living -- and these are the kinds of opportunities that this particular site will lend itself to."

Trizna works six days a week, but said it's a labor of love.

"We put in long hours and hard hours in the heat, but it's worth it," she said.

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