St. Jude Garden yields high value

Ann-Margaret Hedges and Justin Veneman

When St. Jude families and staff members enjoy fresh fruit or vegetables in the hospital’s cafeteria, there’s a good chance the produce was grown on campus. The St. Jude Garden sprouted in 2010 after St. Jude Executive Chef Miles McMath and cafeteria manager Mary Schuchaskie teamed to share a vision of an on-campus garden that would yield fresh produce and herbs.

Organizers and volunteers teamed to build and paint plant boxes and obtain items and tools necessary for garden maintenance. The project currently encompasses 59 raised beds, a greenhouse and hoop houses for growing lettuce and tomatoes all year. The garden's volunteers—many of whom are hospital employees—plant, mulch, weed, water and harvest crops daily.

The on-site garden shortens the time between harvesting and serving, which keeps the food’s nutritional value high and provides healthier fare for faculty, staff and families who eat in the hospital’s cafeteria, the Kay Kafe. In addition, the garden saves the institution money by reducing the need to purchase large amounts of produce.