Can U Dig it?

In the lush and earthy corners of UHN, we find some spectacular gardens.

Let’s start in the west with GROW at Bickle Centre, aka, Garden Rehab on Wheels, or Garden of Eatin’. Thanks so much to Amanda Beales for leading this team through it’s 3rd fantastic season. Each year, it expands and improves.


Staff Salad Potluck 2018

This season, the team built a second in-ground patch for plants too big for the boxes. They grew a watermelon  … a huge hit with the patient garden group … and are growing some pumpkins (carving contest tba)! A patient’s family member walked by all the burgeoning veggies the other day and commented “this is better than Longos”.

Patients at Bickle Centre tend to the garden as part of their therapy. According to one patient, “I love being part of the garden group. I get to get outside, see plants, and taste some fresh vegetables…. What more could I want?”. Another noted honestly that “It helps fight the boredom” (I hear you). One +80 year old patient remarked with deep surprise:

“I never knew that’s how that grew!”.



This year, the GROW team decided to get creative and tried growing a cucamelon. No, I’ve never heard of that either, but apparently it’s the size of a grape, looks like a watermelon, and tastes like a cucumber!!

We’ll travel east to get the The UHN Real Food Garden, right near Toronto Western Hospital. Here, Sophia, Jim, Geremy, Rachel and Elise have been sowing and growing as a mini but mighty team. Jim reported that after he cut through the jungle of weeds, “there are some nice tomatoes and basil plants under there … for a nice sandwich on Portuguese buns for one of the Dundas St. bakeries.”garden-1

Now we’ll travel northeast to get to Lyndhurst, where they have had a raised-bed garden for many years. Their focus in more on flowers and herbs over food, but these gorgeous marigolds look good enough to eat! Note the special long-handled tools perfect for using from a wheelchair!garden-lyndhurst 2018

Thanks Nicole Leung, recreation therapist for bringing her patients outside for the best kind of therapy (IMHO) and for sending these beautiful and lucious photos from Lyndhurst…

If this is your jam (or jelly), you may be interested in 2 events by our friends at NOURISH, both on Monday September 10th:

  1. Connecting Food & Health Care: Lessons From Canada, US & Denmark: 12 – 1:30 pm, LKSKI-SMH, 209 Victoria St. room 211
  2. Food on the Public Plate: Lessons from Canada, US & Denmark: 4:30-6:30 pm, MaRS 101 College St. room CR2



It’s easy and free registration (and they had me at “light refreshments will be served”).

For more about Gardens at UHN, see




We need some seed to feed, indeed

We are getting ready to take the 5th kick at the can (or throw at the hoe) for the UHN Real Food Garden! It may seem too cold and snowy to think of easy, breezy, green gardens, but now is actually the time to plan. A quick look at Toronto’s growing calendar shows that for many crops, sowing seeds indoors should start as soon as end of February to middle of March (not to be confused with Middlemarch by George Eliot) . Bring us your broccoli, Brussel sprouts and cabbage, your eggplants, peppers and tomatoes … all need an early start in a bright green house.

Geremy starting seeds in previous garden seasons

Geremy starting seeds in our 3rd garden season

As for the UHN Real Food Garden, it may be Continue reading

Top 14 Ways We Were Talkin’ Trash in 2014

What a wild, wondrous and #WasteFreeUHN year it’s been here at Talkin’ Trash. Before we enter into the brand spanking new one, let’s have a gander at the highlights. And now (insert imaginary drumroll), a count down of our top 14 stories from 2014, as selected by your curious clicks:


Ed helped us get our feet (not-so) wet with Water, Water (Not) Everywhere

image credit:

image credit:

Continue reading

Going to Seed (but in a good way)

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 Continue reading

Party in the Garden, Orphan Seedlings Need Homes!

It often happens as we work in our offices, cubicles, clinics and units that we get stuck inside for hours on end with nary a sign of land or sky. The chain to our desks or patient bedsides makes the great outdoors seem as distant and mythical as Narnia or Hogwarts. So how do we get a little more grounded? Enter stage left, the UHN Real Food Garden, a brand new program going through its first year of sowing and growing. 

The UHN Real Food Garden is an amazing seed to feed program run by UHN staff volunteering any moments of extra time to plant, weed, seed, and water our little plot of land. How wonderful for a lab tech to talk to actual people and other living things instead of endless streams of test tubes. Or for a nurse working the midnight shift to see daylight and get her hands dirty (if you work for Infection Prevention & Control, don’t panic, she will wash them well before handling patients).

And if this couldn’t sound better, it is! The fruits (and veggies) of our labour will be used by the ELLICSR Program to teach cancer survivors to cook and eat healthy meals. That’s everything good in one fantastic program…sunshine, lollipops and rainbows everywhere!

You’ll be happy to know that the money made by our UHN Green Team selling Trees for Toonies on Earth Day went to buy organic compost/fertilizer for the new UHN Real Food Garden. After planting as many seedlings as we could, we need homes for the poor lonely extra seedlings. What a great reason to have a party, even better, a party outside! Pick up these seedlings for your garden at home, and any money made will go back into the UHN Real Food Garden. 

So what’s happening?

Garden Party & Seedling Sale

Garden Party & Seedling Sale

A Garden Party & Seedling Sale!

When: Thursday, June 7 Time: 5 – 7 PM

Location: The Real Food Garden next to the Green House, Scadding Court Community Centre 707 Dundas St. West, across from Toronto Western Hospital. 

Inspired to join the UHN Real Food Garden Group? Contact Elena Hall 

Happy Planting!