Hudson, Wis. – It’s not easy being – or eating – green, but a new partnership aims to make it easier. An innovative partnership between Urban Organics – an organic aquaponic farm in St. Paul – and four HealthPartners hospitals and clinics in the St. Croix Valley has made it simpler for patients and health care staff to be eco-friendly.
Under the partnership, salad greens are provided by Urban Organics, which has converted an old brewery in St. Paul into one of the first USDA-certified organic aquaponic farms in the country. Urban Organics delivers organic salad greens to each of the four participating HealthPartners hospitals or clinics within 24 hours of harvest. The pilot project at Lakeview Hospital (Stillwater), Hudson Hospital & Clinic, Westfields Hospital & Clinic (New Richmond, Wis.) and Stillwater Medical Group has received the thumbs-up by patients and employees alike.
“Fresh and sustainably grown foods are an important part of our commitment to health,” said Marian Furlong, CEO and President of Hudson Hospital & Clinic. “We were excited about this opportunity to partner with Urban Organics to provide these delicious, nutritious salad greens in our patient meals and our campus cafeterias. The feedback we’ve heard from patients and employees confirmed that this was a good decision.”
Aquaponics is a farming method where fish and plants help each other grow, essentially mimicking what happens organically in nature. Fish provide nutrient-rich water to nourish the plants, which then provide a natural filter for the water in which the fish live. Aquaponics uses just 2 percent of the water used in conventional farming and produce can be grown and harvested year-round.
"It's something that people can trust,” said Urban Organics co-founder Kristen Haider of the farm’s produce. “It's coming from a reliable source. It's local, the produce is organic and we’re using a sustainable method of farming. It's a different way of looking at it.” Urban Organics salad greens have been used in patient meals and cafeteria salad bars since December. A trial retail option – Greens To Go – offering patients, employees and visitors the chance to purchase 5 oz take-home containers of the salad blends went live this month after a successful trial in March.
(photo) Hudson Hospital & Clinic Nutrition Services staff Brenda Jewell and Jennifer Conde with the first ever delivery of Urban Organics salad greens to the hospital kitchen.
About Hudson Hospital & Clinic
HealthPartners family of care includes Hudson Hospital & Clinic, serving western Wisconsin with an emergency center, birth center, rehabilitation center, imaging center, specialty clinics, cancer care, heart care, orthopedics and a nationally acclaimed healing arts program. Founded in 1957, the HealthPartners (www.healthpartners.com) family of health care companies serves 1.4 million medical and dental health plan members nationwide and is the largest consumer-governed, nonprofit health care organization in the nation, providing care, coverage, research and education to improve health and well-being in partnership with members, patients and the community.
About Urban Organics
Urban Organics (urbanorganics.com) is focused on reinvigorating the current food system by providing hyperlocal, long-term sustainable, year-round USDA certified greens and sustainably-grown fish in urban environments. It’s making it happen right now in St. Paul at the former Hamm’s Brewery. The organization’s mission is to inspire a better food system for the people, by the people.