Research Medical Center is located in an urban area of Kansas City where many community members suffer from obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Exercising outside isn’t always possible, healthy foods aren’t a regular part of many diets and much of the property in the surrounding area is not conducive to gardening.
Research Medical Center’s "Wellness Gardens" were the brainchild of Liz Tremain, Director of Ethics and Compliance, who shared the concept of a community garden with Sue Funk, rehab specialist and eMAR coordinator. Sue then partnered with Kansas City Community Garden and members of Plant Operations to build 48 raised-beds on the West side of the RMC campus in a large otherwise unused grassy area. 16 beds were made available to our employees and the remaining 32 were made available to members of the community.
Fruit trees were planted along one side of the Wellness Gardens, immediately adjacent to a half-mile American Heart Association walking trail. Two water sources were installed, as well as three park benches. Kansas City Community Gardens provides participants with classes on organic gardening and composting, and discounts on seed packets. Gardeners enjoy the social and exercise benefits associated with growing their own food in a public setting.
All 48 beds were utilized last summer; some by groups of people, some by individuals. Two employees from Research Psychiatric Center raised food to donate to homeless shelters. Employees, out-patients, and family members of patients can be seen strolling among the beds (even in the winter), enjoying introspective moments on the benches, and walking on the AHA walking trail…showing that this initiative has impacted more than just the gardeners.