This article outlines preliminary findings of a 3-year project that explored on-site food production on institutional properties, primarily healthcare facilities.Background:
There are growing pressures on healthcare facilities to improve their food offerings and incorporate food gardens into their health programs. While several healthcare facilities produce food on-site, there are few studies that explore opportunities, capacities, and institutional barriers related to on-site food production.Methods:
The study employed mixed methods including historical review, case studies, surveys, interviews, pilot garden projects, and Geographic Information System mapping. The number of participating institutions varied by method.Results:
Benefits associated with on-site food production can be health, economic, environmental, and social. There are also institutional barriers including administrative roadblocks, perceived obstacles, and the difficulty in quantitatively, measuring the qualitatively documented benefits.Conclusions:
The benefits of food gardens far outweigh the challenges. On-site food production has tremendous potential to improve nutrition for staff and patients, offer healing spaces, better connect institutions with the communities in which they are located, and provide the long-professed benefits of gardening for all involved—from therapeutic benefits and outdoor physical activities to developing skills and social relationships in ways that few other activities do.