As the infinitely wise Ferris Bueller once noted “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” In this world of time-crushing connectivity, one of the best places to slow down and appreciate life’s magic is a nice green garden. You can’t swipe a screen while you dig in the dirt. Add a dash of local fresh food and you’re golden.
There’s a lot of gardeny goodness this year at UHN…
The biggest news has gotta be GROW … our Garden Rehab On Wheels at Toronto Rehab Bickle Centre. All the imagining, planning and grant getting by Adeline Cohen, plus hands-on leadership by Paula Cripps-McMartin and her team, has sprouted into something big! Paula happily shared:
It looks great. It is amazing to see how quickly things are coming up, including the things we planted from seed. We have many staff and patients who comment that they come by daily to see the progress. Also a couple of the therapists indicated they are using the garden as part of their therapy with patients. It allows for an opportunity for them to share stories and create connections to their life outside of their current circumstances.
I’ll rewind to Adeline’s post to show how many staff worked together to get this off the ground (literally off the ground … it’s a raised garden)…
Just 4.5 km away, the UHN Real Food Garden team hoes and sows for its 5th spin around the sun. The harvest goes to ELLICSR to teach healthy cooking to cancer survivors and friends, plus a little for the volunteers to munch on.
Our team got together on Tuesday at lunch to do some weeding (Belated Pro Tip: do NOT garden in the midday sun when the real-feel forecast is 40 degrees celsius). A helpful gentleman asked if he could take home some of the weeds we pulled. Waste not, want not so we were happy to hand them over. He explained that it is Callaloo and that back in Jamaica, they eat it all the time. Wash the leaves well, sauté it in oil with onions, S&P and butter … it’ll rock your world.
It turns out another “weed” was also edible: Purslane, also called Munyeroo and Pigweed. Yet another reason not to use any nasty pesticides on gardens, some weeds are really useful! A note of caution: be careful before eating weeds. You need to positively identify the plant. Some can be healthy and tasty, some can be poisonous. Christine identified it and gave it a go:
I washed that pig weed thoroughly and cooked it with turmeric, butter and a pinch of salt and pepper. I also added a speck of mild curry spice. It cooked rapidly. Didn’t use the stalks as I wasn’t quite sure about that. Was quite a task removing the leafy florets. I cooked this for the first time and it tasted good.
We’re learning more and more that getting into nature, green exercise and specifically gardening have so many benefits, both physical and mental. When we grow our own fresh fruits and veggies, evidence shows we also eat more of them too.
Speaking of fresh and eating, there’s good news coming to University Ave and Gerrard. Every Friday from July 15 to September 30, catch this amazing mobile market at the University Avenue patio in front of Toronto General Hospital. Who knew you could retrofit a TTC Wheel-Trans bus into a traveling green-grocer?
And if you like markets around the University Ave corridor, visit our farmers market friends at SickKids. It’s every Tuesday, 8 AM – 2 pm on their University Ave driveway.
With all the fresh produce everywhere, we really can test out if an apple a day does what they say.
For more pics, check out our Facebook Page … and maybe Like it while you’re there, if you’re feeling freshly inspired.
July 18, 2016: See the UHN NEWS story on the Bickle garden, even more great pics!