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Suddenly I Seed!

Check out what our 2015 University of Illinois Extension Interns are doing this summer!
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Schwab Rehabilitation Hospital Rooftop Garden

Posted by Ron Wolford -

So far this summer we have been able to see gardens established in empty lots, in school gardens, among science museum exhibits, and finally on the rooftop of a hospital building. The Schwab Rehabilitation Center is host to a therapeutic rooftop garden, supporting inpatient therapy with a calming environment. The rooftop garden is open to patients at any time of day, and they can come to the roof with their therapists to water the various plants in the landscaping or to enjoy some sunshine.

We were able to witness the benefits of the rooftop garden firsthand when we attended with three Master Gardeners on a beautiful Friday morning. The Master Gardener Program supplied potted vegetables, soil, fertilizer, tools, and watering cans for patients to use while re-potting veggies and herbs in large containers. Patients who visited the garden had recently had strokes or injuries causing them to lose control or strength in various muscle groups. Working with a shovel in the soft soil can be a gentle way to regain the strength they lost, and we were able to help them feel accomplished and confident in their health, at least for a little while.

The rooftop garden hosts several inpatient therapy groups including those related to mobility, motor coordination, relaxation, and horticulture therapy. Horticultural areas have been known to be relaxing according to research, and the outdoor environment is a calming place to conduct therapy for any illness or injury. The rooftop is also a great way to utilize space in such an urban setting. Rooftop gardens are being installed all over the city to improve air quality and the urban heat island effect.

It's great to know that the rooftop garden is not only giving back to the environment, but the hospital as well. It was a privilege to witness a project that is making such a difference, and I applaud the efforts of dedicated Master Gardeners to continue the effort after short staffing. I hope the patients of Schwab Rehabilitation Center will continue to benefit from this program, and that their days continue to be sunny!

Shelby & Ilana

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