Food for thought - literally!

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Food for thought - literally!

Check out what’s growing at Regina Pioneer Village! In late May a group of residents and staff at Regina Pioneer Village got together to sow the first seeds of a new garden. This is just one of the initiatives that Stephanie Cook, director of Nutrition and Food Services is involved in with Nourish, a national network of 25 nutrition and food service innovators from across Canada who are working together to redefine the future of food in health care.

A group of residents and staff at Regina Pioneer Village got together to sow the first seeds of a new garden.

One of the goals of Nourish is to find opportunities to bring more locally grown food into healthcare.  When Steve Adkins, manager, NFS at Regina Pioneer Village (RPV), heard about Nourish, he wondered about the possibility to have a small garden at the long-term care complex.  It didn’t take long to get the full support of the team at RPV and get this project off the ground.  Once the word was out, the long-term care residents were excited to join in — preparing the space and planting seeds, to harvesting the first leaves of lettuce just this week. 

 “One way to start redefining the value of food is through an initiative like this,” says Cook. “We aren’t expecting to grow enough to serve garden veggies at every meal, but we are hoping to grow enough for residents to enjoy the fruits of their labour at least a few times each week between now and October.” 

So, what are they growing?  Veggies like salad greens, baby cucumbers, tomatoes of all sizes, peas and beans are being planted.  “It has been a team event,” said Adkins, remarking on the outpouring of support from the staff and residents of RPV.  “We weren’t sure how involved the residents would want to be, but they have been amazing, with folks from the hostel organizing a daily watering schedule and everyone eager to pitch in.  We have started small but left ourselves plenty of room to grow."

The first leaves of lettuce were pulled from the garden in June.

The importance of this initiative goes beyond making a statement about the value of fresh and healthy food and extends to the wellness that can be achieved by simply working the soil and enjoying the fresh air.  As many of our residents have roots in farming, gardening is a familiar outdoor activity that has been shown to benefit people with dementia by reducing stress and anxiety while fostering happiness.  In addition, diets rich in fruits and vegetables —particularly green leafy vegetables — have been linked to healthy brain function and may protect against memory loss.  Now that’s food for thought!

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