Gardens of NSHA

Nova Scotia Health Authority is more than its hospitals and health centre; the work of our physicians, health professionals, staff, leaders and volunteers extends into the community, in the fabric of Nova Scotia as we work to make this province healthier.

A part of that work is building food security and wellness through the use of community gardens. Across the province, health authority lands are used to grow hundreds of pounds of food. As importantly, these garden projects offer a means to teach people about food security, the importance of fresh, healthy food, and the wellness that can be achieved, simply by working the soil.

Here are a few of the gardens that NSHA grows. 

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Common Roots Urban Farm
Common Roots Urban Farm is a hybrid garden right in front of the QEII Health Sciences Centre, Halifax Infirmary emergency department, on the land where Queen Elizabeth High School once stood. The farm harvests food for the Parker Street Food Bank, proving more than 900 pounds of produce so far this 2015 season. It also offers plots where people can grow their own food and “nibble gardens” where people walking through are encouraged to graze. The QEII is also moving forward with a plan to replace existing landscaping with edible landscaping across its properties, adding more food to the mix and helping do its part to address food insecurity on a small scale.

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There is a vegetable garden at Bayview Memorial Health Centre in Advocate which is primarily looked after by maintenance and the products are used in the kitchen. There are two therapeutic gardens at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre. One has been in place for a number of years and a second one is under construction now. A small flower/vegetable garden on the grounds at All Saints Springhill Hospital maintained by volunteers and some patients

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Public Health Services and Community garden
Public Health Services’ newest garden started this spring in partnership with the Community Cupboard and is located in New Glasgow. This agency provides clients with free clothing, toys, books, furniture and food on a weekly basis. The garden has 10 raised beds, a small shed and a deer fence. The raised beds and the shed were built by NSCC students at the Stellarton campus - NSHA paid for the materials and the students provided the labour. Volunteers plant, water and weed the garden. The Public Health nutritionist (shown in the photo) and Community Cupboard clients morning with the clients harvesting and packaging up the food to give away to clients. This garden is equally funded by Pictou County United Way and the Aberdeen Health Foundation - Children’s Aid Society Endowment. Employees at Nissan, as well as clients of New Hope and New Glasgow Girl Guides grew transplants over the winter for both gardens to help save costs. The garden received a Community Health Board Wellness Grant to promote healthy eating in the community and did so with a four-week basic cooking and budgeting course in the spring, and garden foods demonstrations and fresh veggie taste testing this summer.

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Digby General restorative care garden
This is the therapeutic garden used by residents of our Restorative Care Program at Digby General Hospital. Residents start plants in their rooms from seed. Once sprouted, they are transplanted into high-rise garden beds, designed for those who can’t bend over or are in a wheelchair. There are vegetable and flower gardens. Outings and barbecues are held in the garden area behind the hospital for residents, patients and staff.

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Serenity Garden, Northside General Hospital, North Sydney
Serenity Garden, Northside General Hospital, North Sydney Overlooking the harbour, this garden provides a place of serenity with a spectacular view. This garden was a partnership between the Northside Hospital Foundation and the North Sydney Garden Club to create a “Democracy 250” garden at hospital, to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of parliamentary democracy in Canada. The Foundation worked collaboratively with the Garden Club to ensure the garden was installed and maintained year after year. The garden includes perennial plants, bulbs, fixtures and trees/shrubs with a brick/stone retaining wall. It also includes a birdbath and benches. Earl’s Greenhouse in North Sydney developed the garden’s layout, supplied and planted much of the greenery. Foundation employees and volunteers weed and maintain the garden to this day. Patients are able to enter the garden if they are mobile or with the help of caregivers. Visitors, volunteers and staff also make use of the garden and the picnic tables next to it.

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Public Health Services in Pictou County and Pictou County Kids community garden
Five years ago Public Health Services in Pictou County and Pictou County Kids First Family Resource Centre started a community garden partnership. The garden part of the partnership is located in Alma on land loaned to the groups by Christensen Farms. The produce grown at this farm goes to Kids First clients to be distributed at its weekly family drop in and Public Health often does demonstrations and creates snacks using the harvest. It is also given to the Pictou County Food Bank, New Hope (a psycho-social rehabilitation program of Mental Health Services) for their preserve program, and Tearmann House for Abused Women. This garden is supported by several community groups including Nova Scotia Power Trenton Station, Aberdeen Hospital Auxiliary, Community Health Boards, Kinettes, West River Greenhouses, and the Westville Garden Club.

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Healing Garden Cape Breton Cancer Centre, Sydney
The Healing Garden at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre opened in 1999, a year after the Centre itself. Several groups worked together to create the garden including the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Auxiliary, the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation, the Cape Breton Hospice Palliative Care Society and the Canadian Cancer Society. The garden was designed to provide a peaceful and private area for patients undergoing cancer treatment and their families and is located next to the Centre’s treatment room. The 1,890 square foot garden has many shaded seating areas, a large water fountain and many flower beds. In addition to cancer patients and their families, other patients, visitors, volunteers and staff frequent the garden for the physical, emotional and spiritual healing it provides.

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Healing Garden Cape Breton Cancer Centre, Sydney
The Healing Garden at the Cape Breton Cancer Centre opened in 1999, a year after the Centre itself. Several groups worked together to create the garden including the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Auxiliary, the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation, the Cape Breton Hospice Palliative Care Society and the Canadian Cancer Society. The garden was designed to provide a peaceful and private area for patients undergoing cancer treatment and their families and is located next to the Centre’s treatment room. The 1,890 square foot garden has many shaded seating areas, a large water fountain and many flower beds. In addition to cancer patients and their families, other patients, visitors, volunteers and staff frequent the garden for the physical, emotional and spiritual healing it provides.

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 Cape Breton Regional Hospital edible garden
Nutrition and Food Services staff at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital are working with staff and patients in Mental Health and Addiction Services to create edible gardens on the hospital’s grounds. Staff and patients have been involved in all aspects of the garden from planting to building garden beds to maintaining the garden. The garden’s produce will be used by the patients in cooking groups offered by Mental Health and Addiction Services. It will also be used in the hospital’s cafeteria, as part of a special salad promotion called “Go Veggie, Go Local”. Tending to a garden bed, from left to right, are: Joann Chinyet, former patient; Erin Arsenault, occupational therapist-Mental Health and Addiction Services and Kelvin Butler, nutritionist and project coordinator for the garden.