A group of volunteers and interns, with a little help from Mother Nature, have turned a rooftop of Stony Brook University’s Medical Center into a bountiful vegetable garden. In first year that the garden has been grown, the University has yielded enough crops to incorporate them into at least one meal a day for patients.
The “farm”, appropriately named Stony Brook Heights, is headed by the Hospital’s Department of Family Medicine, Nutrition Division. The Division is filled with staff members, interns, and other students all volunteering their time to work the “field”. The farm is a result of a grant from New York State Department of Health’s Healthy Heart Program, which for the next two years provides over $80,000 in funding.
Stony Brook University’s Sustainability Studies Program says that the farm began as a somewhat neglected plot receiving little or no attention, but saw a complete 180-degree flip about a year later.
Stony Brook Heights now boasts enough vegetables to serve in at least one meal every day for the patients of the Hospital. The produce, including cabbage, kale and eggplant, is result of a larger step toward sustainability than simply growing food.
“We’re trying to teach them — if they don’t already know — about the problems with food, whether it’s pesticide issues, transportation, the price of hauling food from outside areas,” coordinator Iman Marghoob explained to Newsday. “So it’s a lot of learning going on at one time.”
The success of the garden was embellished with a fundraiser on September 10, featuring local chefs’ preparation of dishes using the vegetables and herbs from the garden. The money raised is to be used to continue funding the garden once the Healthy Heart Program grant expires.
But sustainability doesn’t stop at the edge of the roof; the same grant that funds the rooftop garden also enables the hospital to maintain 10 more community gardens in impoverished neighborhoods throughout Long Island. Now, that’s Healthier New York!
Maxwell is the Coordinator of Digital Engagement for The State University of New York.