HOMESTEAD, Fla. – The food as medicine mantra has been around for years, and now a South Florida hospital is putting it into practice to help their patients.
At Homestead Hospital, part of the Baptist Health System, sits a plot of land where Thi Squire, manager of the Grow2Heal Garden tends to over 30 fruits, vegetables and herbs.
“It’s called Grow2Heal because we’re growing food to heal our patients,” Squire said.
It is the only hospital based feeding garden in the state and one of barely a handful in the entire country.
“I have some medicinal plants such as guynabano which is really useful. Research is showing that it may have some anti-cancer properties in both the fruit as well as drinking tea from the leaves,” Squire said.
The aloe grown here can be used to help burn patients and there are a multitude of medicinal herbs.
“For instance mince and thyme and basil, they are very good for settling one’s stomach and ease nausea,” she said.
The produce and herbs cultivated from these plants can help diabetics control blood sugar levels, and can lower lipid levels in patients with high cholesterol.
“Patients are always surprised, they’re grateful that we are giving them not only something good to eat but providing some education about it,” said Ernesto Gomez, a clinician with the hospital.
And for patients with COVID-19, food from the Heal2Grow garden can boost the immune system, helping it better battle the virus.
“Anything that you can put in your body to nourish your body, to improve your immune system, is really what you want to do.
Items grown in the garden are also used for dishes made in the hospital cafeteria.