Keeping patients healthy all year long: Mad River Hospital builds a hydroponics greenhouse
ARCATA 2017 -- Mad River Community Hospital is celebrating its first harvest from their brand new, 450 square-foot hydroponics greenhouse.
Since 2006, the hospital has produced much of the fresh fruits and vegetables that is serves in the Garden Court Café and to patients from the hospital farm located on the Mad River Hospital property. Now, the hospital will be able to provide even more healthy food to patients and staff all year long through a hydroponics greenhouse that can grow strawberries, lettuce mixes, cucumber, basil, tomatoes and spinach.
Todd Heustis, Food and Nutrition Services Manager, and Doug Shaw, CEO, first thought of the concept five years ago. They wanted the ability to grow more fresh food, especially during the colder months.
Hydroponic growing is essentially defined by its lack of soil. The system uses the nutrient film technique (NFT), which incorporates a shallow stream of water that contains the dissolved nutrients required for plant growth. Nutrients are monitored and mixed into the water, then an electric pump is used to pump the water into the channels for the plant roots. The water is constantly circulating.
Mad River Community Hospital employs a full-time farmer, Graham Gagne, to tend to both the greenhouse and farm. He coordinates with the kitchen to provide produce for the Café to cook. Everyday there is a lunch special, usually featuring the produce grown on the farm or in the greenhouse. Volunteers also help on the farm and are instrumental part of the success of the farm.