In the fight against childhood cancer, Jerri Myers brings something a little different to the table — fresh vegetables.
Myers is the first full-time gardener for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, sharing her knowledge as an experienced chef and lifelong gardener in her role at St. Jude.
“I’m certainly no doctor, and I’m not a nutritionist, but as a chef and gardener I know that when vegetables are picked ripe, not traveled across the U.S., and prepared within a very short period of time, they have the most nutritional value they will ever have,” she said. “Food is absolutely no cure-all, but we try to serve our patients the absolute best we can possibly grow to help them in their fight for good health.”
Food from the St. Jude Garden, established in 2010, is used in Kay Kafe, the hospital’s cafeteria, to feed patients, families, staff and visitors. The garden supplements the Kay Kafe kitchen with fresh vegetables grown using natural practices.
The garden at St. Jude contains 60 raised garden beds used to grow a variety of seasonal herbs and vegetables. It also has a greenhouse and multiple hoop houses. In the next year, Myers plans to harvest fruit from blueberry and blackberry plants that were recently planted. She also hopes to harvest figs from a supply of fig trees on campus.
It’s very rewarding, and they say if you find a job you love, you’ll never have to work again.
After working as a chef instructor for the past eight years in Memphis, Myers returns to her gardening roots at St. Jude, carrying on a family tradition passed down from her grandmother and her mother.
“I have loved gardening forever,” Myers said. “It’s very rewarding, and they say if you find a job you love, you’ll never have to work again.”
Caring for the St. Jude Garden is especially rewarding. “When I see patients and families eating the vegetables I’ve grown and harvested, it truly makes my heart swell,” Myers said. “I have such a minuscule job compared to what our St. Jude health care workers do and am very humbled by being allowed to grow food for the children of St. Jude."