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Breaking Ground on Florida Hospital Fish Memorial's Community Garden

The new community garden is Volusia County's first on a hospital campus.

12/7/2016  |  By Lindsay Cashio

Florida Hospital Fish Memorial recently celebrated a groundbreaking for Volusia County's first community garden on a hospital campus.

"In October, I went to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine's conference. There, I learned that of the top 15 killers in the world, 11 of them are preventable through lifestyle changes, such as nutrition and exercise," said Danielle Johnson, Florida Hospital Fish Memorial chief operating officer. "Through this community garden, we hope to transform the health and wellbeing of our community, encouraging a plant-based diet and exercise, to help reduce the risk of these 11 diseases."

Dr. Gail Hansen, University of Florida department of environmental horticulture associate professor, and Dr. Esen Momol, University of Florida director of the Florida friendly landscape program, led a University of Florida design team to create Florida Hospital Fish Memorial's community garden.

"We are so thankful for our partnerships with the University of Florida. They so willingly shared their knowledge and expertise, designing this entire space," said Maureen Mercho, Florida Hospital Fish Memorial Foundation executive director. "This is huge for West Volusia and something to celebrate. On this single plot of land, members of our community can grow their own organic food and get exercise while doing it. What could be better?"

The event also featured LaManda Joy, an award-winning master gardener and the founder and executive director of the Peterson Garden Project, an organization that manages seven community gardens and nearly 3,000 gardeners in Chicago, Illinois.

"Gardening is the excuse, but community is the point. There is so much goodness in gardening and it truly brings the community together," said Joy.