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




To Green Thumbs and Golden Ladles

Take a look at your lunch right now (or snack or dinner, whatever’s the next thing going into your mouth). Do you know where it came from? Do you know who (or what) made it? Can you pronounce the ingredients? Do you see evidence of real plants there? Yes? No? Either way, welcome to a discussion on one of my favourite things…food. Food can be a wonderful source of nutrients, deliciousness, pleasure, and sometimes guilt. The foods you choose can also make or break your health. As Ann Wigmore said, “The food you eat can either be the safest & most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”.

planting 2013

Just Planted: UHN Real Food Garden

But before we get to the What, let’s get to the Where. We appreciate our food more when we know where it comes from, especially if it’s somewhere close by. As a nice side bonus, you save fuel and energy if your food doesn’t have to travel too far to get to you. One way to score locavore points and eat well is to hit up the hundreds of farmer’s markets that proliferate Toronto, Ontario and the rest of the world. An even better way to get excited about these oh-so-healthy ingredients is to grow them yourself. In this case, we’ve grown them together at the UHN Real Food Garden. 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!