Sharp Coronado Hospital Breaks Ground on Organic Garden

Just off Soledad Ave, located at the back of Sharp Coronado Hospital, an unassuming wooden gate hides a garden that Peter Rabbit could never resist. In rich soil, clusters of fresh green vegetables and herbs march out in rows: tarragon, Thai basil, mint, marigolds, and four kinds of kale, among others. The entire garden is organic — not a trace of foreign chemicals in the plot.

This little garden is the current project of Sodexo’s General Manager, Nicole Hoffman, of Food and Nutrition Services at Sharp Coronado. Her goal is to grow fruits and vegetables that can be used in the hospital’s new Mindful Cafe, which opened in April 2015. “Our plan is to plant new herbs and vegetables that we will regularly use, produce that is prolific and has a short growing season so we can utilize them.” Nicole and her assistants will harvest the vegetables regularly for use in the cafe, which is enjoyed daily by patients, families, hospital staff, and the local Coronado community.

So what’s on the menu? “We’re going to be planting beets, arugula, green beans, different types of peppers (both sweet and hot), tomatoes, bok choy, and spring mix lettuce. We have a couple of companion flowers to keep the trees pollinated and continuing to fruit. The rest is herbs, and the two trees.”

Yes, the garden has fruit trees, too: one small avocado tree and one very heavy persimmon tree, bending over the weight of its rapidly ripening fruit.

Sharp Coronado has had a garden before, but over time the soil lost its richness, and Nicole was ready for a fresh start. She hired a company called Gro Organic, and says she is “really happy with the team that’s come out. They needed to put a good rich soil back into the beds. We used a lot of organic composting, but when you use too much of it, you lose the soil. So you have to put the soil back in, which is what they did.”

Nicole’s plan is to eventually invite volunteers from the community of Coronado to care for the garden. “[Gro Organic] will be providing education and how to maintain the garden and learn about the techniques to harvest vegetables and herbs. We will start launching the education portion in October, and ideally we will have a monthly educational period.”

“Being partners with the community is important to us and the garden allows us another opportunity to share common goals,” she says.

Those interested in becoming a volunteer gardener can contact Nicole at nicole.hoffman@sharp.com or by calling Sharp Coronado at 619-522-3715.

If you’d like to taste and see before you commit, though, Nicole is also planning a Green Grocer event with their fresh garden produce and local organic vendors. The Sharp Coronado Green Grocer Event will be held on Friday, September 25, from 10:30-2:30 in the Mindful Cafe and Garden. Local and organic vendors will be sourcing breads, baked goods, cheese, infused oils, and honey from local organic farms and shops for purchase for the event. Mindful Cafe’s popular lunch items will also be available for purchase: the sustainable beef burger, the black bean burger, and homemade special sauces.

Until September 25th, the garden will be rapidly producing its first harvest for Coronado to purchase and enjoy — Nicole just hopes the persimmons can wait that long!

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Becca Garber

Staff Writer

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Becca is a Coronado local, military spouse, mother of three, and an ICU nurse on hiatus. In Coronado, you will find her at the playground with her kids, jogging to the beach, or searching the Coronado library for another good read.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com.