Tucked away behind a wooden fence along Soledad Place is Sharp Coronado Hospital's organic garden. A beautiful, blooming garden filled with fresh lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, rainbow chard, Meyer lemons, and a ton of fresh herbs such as parsley, lavender, sage, rosemary, thyme and oregano.
"Something's always different and growing each time I enter the garden," says Meghan Bowen, executive chef at Sharp Coronado. She would know — Bowen is in the garden frequently, picking its harvest for meals she and the Sodexo team prepare in their Mindful Café.
"It is so fun to go out and pick fresh herbs or edible flowers for catering events and new dishes that I am creating," says Bowen. "I love to use a lot of microgreens, and I often think to myself, 'What a wonderful thing it is to have this organic garden at the hospital.'"
It's also a treat for the community too. On the first Monday of every month, all are invited to participate in a one-hour gardening class with Sharp Coronado's partner, groOrganic Gardens. At a recent class, "Planning and Preparing for a Spring Garden," nearly a dozen people showed up to learn how to plan and prepare for a spring planting.
"We look forward to the gardeners' arrival every two weeks, especially when we see the large bins of beautiful fruits and vegetables that have been harvested only minutes ago," says Manisha Desai, Sodexo manager at Sharp Coronado. These same fruits and vegetables are served in the Mindful Café in the healthy dishes prepared daily.
"It's so satisfying to see our Café visitors so happy when I tell them that they are enjoying fruits and vegetables freshly picked from our own organic garden," adds Desai.
The garden was planted five years ago with the intent to use the harvest in the Café, which is not only visited by patients' families but also by hospital staff and neighbors. Even Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey makes an occasional appearance.
"It's always fun to do seasonal sides dishes, smoothies and salads," says Bowen. "I work with the gardeners, and we plant with intention. I can't wait for the spring and summer to bring us a delicious and healthy harvest that we'll offer our Café visitors."
For more information about the gardening classes and to register, call 619-522-3715.