Celebrating GROW(th)

Hi everyone! My name is Nicolette and I am an Environmental Science student at the University of Toronto, and new Sustainability Intern at UHN.

As one of my first official tasks, I had the pleasure of representing the Energy & Environment Team at TRI-Bickle’s 2nd Annual Urban Agriculture Day last Friday. Home to one of UHN’s community gardens, Bickle’s GROW (Garden Rehab on Wheels) has custom height planters and wheelchair accessible paths that enables patients to participate in gardening as part of their rehabilitation. The group meets once a week, and together with dedicated volunteers and staff members, the patients are able to go outside and tend to the garden during the warmer months.

The end of the summer Corn Roast is chance for staff members and patients to come together to celebrate their hard work and enjoy the garden’s final few weeks. The event also welcomed patient families and community members to tour the garden and learn about the project.


Patients, staff, and volunteers enjoying the day’s festivities

This year, the event proved a huge success as the group managed to collect over $410 in donations! All donations will go toward the 2019 garden. Not only that, but GROW was recognized by the Toronto Urban Grower’s ‘Best in GrowTO’ competition, earning the award for Best Pollinator Patch and the Runner Up award for Best Container Garden.


Members of the Garden Group pose with their awards

This being my first time at Bickle and seeing the garden, I can’t help but marvel at the incredible sense of community the entire team shares. Everyone helped play a role in Friday’s festivities, as patients were tasked with shucking the corn and picking fresh herbs from the garden, while staff brought in supplies and cooked the delicious corn.

The event also featured a bake sale with plenty of treats using Bickle’s own garden-grown ingredients. Rhubarb oatmeal muffins, pepper and chive pita bread, and zucchini chocolate chip cookies, to name a few, all proved to be a huge hit (I would’ve taken a picture but ate mine too fast, oops). The contributions of everyone helped ensure the event ran smoothly and that everyone who stopped by had a wonderful time.


Patients and staff shuck away at the corn. Paula Cripps-McMartin gets the corn roasting!

A HUGE shoutout to Amanda Beales, a Registered Dietician and interprofessional Educator at Bickle! She runs the day-to-day garden operations and is the main organizer of this event. More shoutouts to the whole Bickle Garden team including (deep breath) Paula Cripps-McMartin, Dr. Ling, Susan, Fermina, Elzbieta, Fahreen, Nooshin, Pema, Elizabeth, Ann, Annette, Ana, Patricia, Gaby, Joe, Julia, Maria, Anthea, Lynda, Angela, Jackie, Deep and many more. Spending just a few short hours at Bickle has shown me how much patients and staff value the garden and its (many) benefits!

Thanks to everyone at Bickle for hosting me. I can’t wait to see what the 2019 season has in store for the Garden Group!


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









In respect of farmers….

Susan and Elbonne, a patient at Bickle, enjoy the corn roast for Urban Ag Day

Hi everyone, guest blogger Amanda here! I’m a Registered Dietitian and Interprofessional Educator at TRI’s Bickle Centre, and I’ve had the pleasure of coordinating our “GROW: Garden Rehab. On Wheels” project this year.  While munching on some locally grown corn at Friday’s Urban Agriculture Day event, I took some time to Continue reading

Freshest thing on wheels

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…

Look how gorgeous these wheelchair accessible planters are ... sprinklings of marigolds help keep the mosquitoes away

Look how gorgeous these wheelchair accessible planters are … sprinklings of marigolds help keep the mosquitoes away

The biggest news has gotta be Continue reading