LH victory gardens

Victory Greens, Lenox Hill Hospital’s rooftop garden, has recently opened for its 4th growing season

Written by: Pamela Johnson

What is Victory Greens?

Victory Greens, supported by both Lenox Hill Hospital (LHH) Administration and the health system’s GreenBERG, is a rooftop garden created for everyone who works at LHH to enjoy. Last year, I was given the opportunity to manage the garden, which has been as great a pleasure for me as the success we’ve had for employees.

Over 18,000 visits were made to the garden by LHH employees last year, a significant increase over the prior year. Last year, we hosted 8 Snipping Events that were attended by over 600 employees. At the events, employees had the chance to take home fresh herbs and produce from the garden and learn how to use them in new recipes, drinks and more. One employee who had never cooked with fresh herbs was so inspired by the garden’s bounty that she changed her entire eating habits. She lost 30 pounds and was able to go off of her blood pressure medicine by the end of the snipping season.

This year we are expanding the Snipping Events to include an educational component. We’ll be hosting programs targeting Body, Mind, and Spirit as well as a program on Nutrition and Cooking and one on Exercise. We’ll also be having our first “Mobile Garden” this season, which will allow us to deliver “snippings” to our colleagues at off-site facilities so they may enjoy products from the garden.

Benefits of our rooftop garden- patients and employees

Recent scientific studies have shown that it is critical for a person’s mental and physical health and overall well-being to have at least one direct touch with nature/day. Victory Greens allows us to have a touch of nature, even on a rooftop in NYC.

After a hard shift or a long day, the garden offers employees a place of solace, rest and fresh air, which is important after working inside all day or night. The rooftop garden also presents a wonderful opportunity to meet fellow employees, many of whom would, otherwise, never come into contact with one another. Numerous friendships have been formed over lunch or catching sun rays in the garden. In fact, the garden affords the opportunity to touch everyone in the LHH community, including our patients. Herbs from the garden are used in patient meals as well as in the cafeteria and in the catered events we often host for guests.

Fun fact: There’s at least one species indigenous to every continent represented in the garden and nearly 100 varieties of plants, herbs, vegetables, and fruit are currently growing on the rooftop.

Giving back to our community

Victory Greens has also led to the development of a wonderful relationship with our Community Partner, Harlem Grown. Harlem Grown is an organization whose mission is to inspire youth to lead healthy, productive, fulfilling lives. Through mentorship and urban farming, Harlem Grown increases access to, and knowledge of, healthy food for Harlem residents and provides garden-based development programs to Harlem youth. Our relationship with Harlem Grown began last summer and our programs and connections continue to grow. We have held a number of highly successful outreach events with the Harlem Grown community, including hosting a Teaching Kitchen event which offered information about nutrition, healthy eating and growing herbs and our most recent event in recognition of Earth Day, where we helped children from PS 197 plant flowers around their school. A mix of employees from clinical to non-clinical volunteered to participate in these events and they all have said their experience was as rewarding for them as it was the kids.

How it’s impacted my life

Personally, Victory Greens has had a profound impact on my life. Through the garden, I’ve been able to connect with colleagues I never would have met. I’ve had the opportunity to make a deep commitment to the community around us as well as to make a sincere pledge to help preserve the environment.  I’ve taken an active role in The GreenBERG, Northwell Health’s Business Employee Resource Group focused on environmentally conscientious initiatives. The mission of The GreenBERG is to improve the environmental impact of our facilities by advancing sustainable and socially responsible efforts across Northwell Health and in our communities.

From my involvement with Victory Greens and The GreenBERG, I’ve learned many things and have transformed my view of our planet. I now only wear clothing to work that is made out of sustainable materials, and I have developed a keen interest in trying to resolve recycling and other waste issues that plague hospitals. Who knows what solutions we may ultimately discover, but the magic of Victory Greens seems to be far reaching and highly impactful. Imagine…all that may, and all that has, come from an extraordinary rooftop garden at Lenox Hill Hospital.

 

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