Rockford Hospital’s Community Garden To Promote Wellness
By Amanda Hudson, News Editor
June 22, 2023
ROCKFORD—Hopes were high for seasonal donations to food pantries and local shelters as OSF HealthCare St. Anthony Medical Center began planting its new community garden June 1.
Theresa Yehling, manager of the OSF STRIVE Trauma Recovery Center, was among the OSF staff who were planting and watering plants that day. They anticipated having additional planting help from staffers at the Family Peace Center who were scheduled to come June 2. 
The new garden “will be an opportunity for Mission Partners and community members to work together to grow food that will then be donated to local food banks and those in need,” Yehling said. She noted some “great community support already” and added that volunteers and donations are always welcome moving forward.
The garden is being made possible from a Rockford Human Services’ Community Services Block Grant under the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. It features eight raised beds of plants and seeds and three additional elevated planters in a sunny location behind the OSF medical facility at the OSF Annex building on Strathmoor Drive. The garden is near a bus stop and another health promoting OSF feature: a paved walking path for staff and patients.
Yehling noted they had received several donations of seeds, vegetable plants and herbs, including a tray of hearty tomato plants donated by an OSF staff member. His family brought tomato seeds to the U.S. from Italy and have been growing the tomatoes for many years in their home gardens.
The Healing and Wellness Community Garden is the result of a collaboration between the OSF STRIVE Trauma Recovery Center and the Family Peace Center, both of whom will maintain the garden. Clients of both will learn about growing plants for food and gain some therapeutic benefits from what they learn, including about rain barrels and composting, as well as healthier eating.
Doctors from the medical center have come out to see the garden, Yehling said, and people will be able to come during their break times and “can chill out” under umbrellas or check out the greenery from the walking path. A Blue Zone certified hospital, OSF also views the garden as part of its promotion of healthy living, she added.
“It just all came together,” she said, to benefit OSF staff and behavioral clients and those of the Family Peace Center as well as the community at large.
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