Local hospital growing produce for nutrition programs

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU)-- Most of us don't associate hospitals and gardens with one another, but recently clinics across the country have picked up the idea of incorporating gardening into nutrition lessons.

Kathy Oslund, Registered Dietician at Mayo Clinic Health System Franciscan Healthcare, started the patio garden at the clinic to provide produce for the hospital.

“We got into gardening because we believe in the tremendous benefits that gardening offers. It's a form of healthy food, physical activity, there's stress release with it when you get connected with nature,” says Oslund.

“The produce that we do have is mostly used down in our marketplace cafeteria. This we really look at this as modeling and showcasing some of those techniques that people can employ at their own homes and their own businesses,” says Oslund.

Michael Tangen, Executive Chef at Mayo says he uses as much produce as he can get his hands on.

“I use everything. Because we serve so many people here that I can go through what they pick in a day, no problem. We could go bigger,” says Tangen.

From Eggplants, to Watermelon Radishes, the clinic grows close to two dozen different plants.

“It's continuously growing. Who knows how big it will be in a few years from now,” says Tangen.

And currently, a variety of classes are being held to teach people how gardening can be used right at home.

“What better way to encourage the use of fresh herbs instead of salt in your cooking, than actually showing them. They can see it, they can feel it, and they can taste it. Rather than being inside the building, we can get the teaching equipment right out here, we can do a food demo using some of this produce, and hope to motivate and inspire them to use things once they get home,” says Oslund.

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