US (CT): UConn graduate builds hydroponic garden on roof of Hartford Hospital

Hartford Hospital has a new rooftop garden growing produce for patients in need.

Atop the Conklin building, the city seems a world away. Bell peppers, tomatoes, and beans hung from PVC pipes and looked ready for harvesting. The hospital says too many urban patients don't have access to fresh produce, and that affects health outcomes. The hydroponic garden opened just a few weeks ago, and what's grown here will be given away to patients in need.

The space was designed by LEVO, a Connecticut firm founded by a 24-year-old UConn graduate — Christian Heiden. Heiden designed the system so that the water recycles from the reservoir at the base up to the pipes cascading back down to the reservoir.

"What's really cool about the hydroponics is we don't have to optimize per plant variety," Heiden said. "So we can change the fertilizer to specifically maximize production from a tomato, let's say, or a pepper." As many as 80 plants grow from a single PVC pipe.

David Juros, the Hartford Hospital's food as medicine consultant, says food insecurity impacts health.


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