Patty Jo Toor dreamed of bringing truly fresh food for AdventHealth Celebration. The vice president and chief nursing officer for the Kissimmee, Fla., hospital had long hoped to bring a greenhouse to campus. But after a greenhouse and its space requirements were deemed impractical, she found an alternative: container farming.
The hospital eventually partnered with a container farm supplier, which provides 40-foot shipping containers tricked out to grow greens vertically and hydroponically. The hospital started planting in the summer of 2021. The container is stationed in the parking lot.
The main labor element is preparing and harvesting crops. And lettuce, for example, is a low-labor variety that requires little preparation to be menu-ready.
Inside the container, four walls each have 1,000 slots for seedlings. The onsite nursery supplies the plugs, and the seedlings (at least for lettuce) take about four weeks to mature. Unlike conventional ground-based agriculture, this style of growing has no off-season, which explains the high yield. So far, the hospital has grown lettuce, kale, bok choy, herbs, radishes, and carrots, with new items being slowly introduced. The greens turn up in a variety of places, from salad bars to hot sides, sandwiches, and other dishes, to a biweekly employee food pantry.
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