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Mar 26 2022

Regional Health Systems community garden harvests produce, gives to community members in need

At Regional Health Systems’ community garden, fruits and vegetables are harvested and given to community members in need.  

The garden, located at the care center on Hohman Avenue, was created by a grant from Fiskars and contains cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, basil, blueberries and more that are planted and given away to individuals who need them.   

Doug Van Ramshorst, a community outreach case manager for the health systems’ Hammond locations, runs the garden and works with doctors in Regional Health Systems to identify patients who may need more fruits and vegetables in their diet while also providing food to local shelters.  

 “Our focus is to provide fresh homegrown veggies and fruits to one of the local homeless shelters we work with and for a few of our patients that have either diabetes or hypertension or both, who we want to see their numbers get a little better,” Van Ramshorst said. “So we’re providing food to those individuals as we get it here.”  

While the garden is small, Van Ramshorst said the harvest has gone well and he has hopes to expand in the future.  

“We’ve been able to provide quite a bit of fresh food to some of our patients, and to our patients that are at the homeless shelter,” he said. “It’s been very successful so far.”  

With the success of the small, single location garden, Van Ramshorst said he will continue applying for more grants to put toward creating more in separate locations while also looking for volunteers to participate in tending to the gardens by doing things such as harvesting and checking for infestations or diseases that can spread quickly between plants.  

“We have five locations, so we’re hoping to expand it, maybe we can have a small garden at each location,” he said. “We have all this room here, so I’m hoping that we can expand and grow and provide more fresh food to our patients.”