As I mentioned in Garden Team in a Pickle, most hospital staff spend a good portion of their days washing, scrubbing and otherwise sanitizing their hands. When the day is done, it’s nice to dig in the rich and squishy dirt (in our spare time, not while performing surgery). Speaking of, we’re happy to announce our UHN Real Food Garden is now officially planted! This is our third kick at the can, or swing at the hoe. Gardening season was late since Mother Nature sent us the Mother of all Winters that lasted well into what should have been Spring. No matter…the seedlings are in the ground, as you can see.

image credit: Geremy Capone

It may be a small plot of land, but we love our garden. What’s not to love about a group of staff volunteering some time to sow, hoe and grow tasty produce from seed to feed?  That produce goes to ELLICSR where Geremy Capone uses it to teach healthy cooking to cancer patients, survivors & friends (best part, you get to eat the yummy, anti-oxidizing goodness at the end). Geremy, wellness chef in the ELLICSR kitchen, also heads up the garden and brings his passion for cooking to growing those ingredients.

If you’ve been affected by cancer, perhaps drop in for one of their dynamic healthy cooking demonstrations (the first 3 Thursdays of the month, 12:15-1:15, Toronto General Hospital, Basement level, BCS-021). There’s even a nutritionist, Christy Brissette, to give the science behind the tastiness. Plus, it’s fun to watch the banter between Geremy and Christy … they should have a TV show.

To keep up with our progress, we’ve started an album on our Facebook page (feel free to Like the page … you’ll see when we add more photos as the garden grows). We’re looking forward to seeing our tomatoes, zucchini, carrots, kale, chard and more grow. We’re also looking forward to tasting them in all their organic goodness.

image credit: Aileen Trang
image credit: Aileen Trang

It’s looking more and more like organic gardening is the key to a sustainable food supply, what with the not-so-good news about the climate, our bee and butterfly populations, and the problems with pesticides like neonicotinoids.  It’s also looking more important than ever to make every bit of soil count for something. So, you wanna fight climate change? Grow your way out of it. Here’s how:

  • Create a Bee-Friendly garden with a bee house, bee food, and plants that bees find gorgeously irresistible (lots of native species like crocus, chives and coneflower). Bees like plants and flowers to be bright and colourful, just like we do (ignore those insufferable designers that insist on all-white flower palettes…boring).
  • Plant a Butterfly Garden. Get your milkweed on.
  • Plant a tree in your backyard  Organizations like Leaf will even help you pick the right type of tree, the right spot, and plant it for you for less than you’d spend at a garden centre.
  • And even if all you have is a balcony, plant some veggies and herbs. You will impress the heck out of your guests when you serve them a tomato and bocconcini salad with tomato and basil from your own pots or plots (I’ll be even more impressed if your bocconcini comes from your own water buffalo).
image credit;
image credit;

So get your hands dirty, you dig? (groan, sorry for the bad pun)

Happy hoeing,


P.S. Interested in joining the UHN Real Food Garden? Contact Geremy Capone:

P.P.S. Interested in joining the Talkin’ Food Team? Contact Adeline Cohen here