Staff cultivate their own plots during breaks
Valerie Ward enjoys the opportunity to get outside during her breaks and work on her little plot inside a community garden.
“I look at the space as a ‘gift’ – not just from ThedaCare, but from something bigger that allows me to create a place that is just a little nicer than how I found it,” said Ward, a medical staff secretary at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca.
The ThedaCare community garden space for its employees opened three years ago.
Each spring, employees may sign up for one of the 12 10-by-10 garden plots, said Marci Reynolds, supervisor of health and wellness at ThedaCare Medical Center-Waupaca.
“Everyone does something different with their plot,” she said. “One person has a beautiful herb garden, while another has nearly all climbing peas on their plot. It is just a lot of fun.”
Waupaca Community Garden volunteers rototill the garden each spring, and employees use water via a hose from the former school building.
There is also a small donated garden shed on the site that holds tools, such as rakes, hoes and wheelbarrows.
The garden is located by the former Riverside Elementary School, adjacent to the hospital and now part of the ThedaCare campus.
“ThedaCare provides us with all the materials and tools we need to grow good food for ourselves, friends and families,” Ward said. “We are truly blessed.”
Elis Long, a registered nurse in the hospital’s OB Department, also appreciates having the garden.
“I like to be unplugged from all devices and go tackle those darn weeds. It is also fun to see how each person does what they do,” she said.
The garden also includes a bench, flowers and a shade tree, Reynolds said.
“It is close enough to the hospital so you can go out there to work or just go out and sit,” she said. “It is nice out there and a great way to get some nature therapy. I even had a few meetings out there.”
Reynolds grows a variety of produce on her plot, including kale, carrots, onions, green beans and basil.
She said the garden has its roots in a series of pots outside of the hospital, where she and her staff grew different vegetables.
“We wanted to show our patients how easy it was to grow healthy foods,” she said. “After the pot garden, the hospital administration showed us this space and asked if we wanted it. Of course, we did. They put up a fence and got the area ready for us to use. It was cool how it came together.”