Hospital turns yard into organic farm

Pennsylvania hospital partners with Rodale Institute to cultivate five acres of hospital land.

st lukes farmFoodservice operations don’t get much more hyper-local than St. Luke’s Hospital, in Easton, Pa. The three-year-old facility, part of the St. Luke University Health Network, is getting as much as 80% of the produce its foodservice department uses from its own backyard.

Of course, that “yard” runs for acres and acres—the hospital sits on 500 acres of what was once Lehigh Valley farmland. Last year, the hospital partnered with the Rodale Institute, a non-profit organization that studies organic farming, to convert five acres back into a farm that is growing fruits and vegetables not only for itself but also for the other five hospitals in the network.

The idea came from the hospital’s President Ed Nawrocki. “Last fall, an article came across my desk about a hospital in Michigan doing something similar,” Nawrocki says. “I thought, why can’t we do that here? We’re on 500 acres of land, and it was a farm before, so it naturally fit.”

So the hospital contracted with Rodale, which is located in nearby Kutztown, Pa., to operate the farm, which went live this spring.

Read more: