Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cancer Victory Garden in New Jersey

Cheryl Wachtel, RD, the oncology dietitian at Trinitas Comprehensive Cancer Center in Elizabeth, NJ, has started a small Cancer Victory Garden™ for her cancer center to celebrate and promote the 2010 National Nutrition Month theme, which is "Nutrition from the Ground Up!" This sounds like a perfect match to me!. :-)

Here are some photos and the email messages she sent out to the staff at her cancer center. Cheryl says that the plants have stirred up a tiny bit of a following, and she loves having them in the office with her.
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March is National Nutrition Month, and this year’s theme is “Nutrition from the Ground Up.” Dietitians are always encouraging a heartier consumption of fruits, veggies and herbs, which are loaded with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants and fiber. And of course, produce is low in calories while it packs in all those impressive nutrients. Just about any which way dietitians promote health-care (or disease-care for that matter) involves a push towards eating more fruit and vegetables. I’ll remind the President of this.

So, let’s think “from the ground up” for improving our nutritional intake. On that theme, some Cancer Center dietitians throughout the country are starting “Cancer Victory Gardens” for their patients. This is being spear-headed by a well-spoken and well-published dietitian, who herself is a 3-time cancer survivor. Today, I started a small herb garden right here in my office. I bought a little “Jiffy Greenhouse” of 72 peat pods ($6.99 at Home Depot) and, with Francis’ (the IT-guy) help, planted parsley, cilantro, dill and oregano seeds “from the ground up.”

I’ve taken some pictures for you and it’s my hope to inspire you to start something like this at home. It’s easy, economical and fun (include the kids!) while providing a pesticide-free piece of sustainable agriculture in a small space. Francis even said he found the planting to be therapeutic.

I’ll be sending updates about our little urban garden until the harvest. My plan is to distribute the seedlings when they’ve sprouted to patients and staff to continue the growth at home, and hopefully, enjoy the bounty. Perhaps we should do some of the planting in the courtyard? Let me know if you have an idea as well.

Healthy eating,
Cheryl Wachtel, RD

(Photo: Starter kit)

(Photo: seed pods swollen with water)

(Photo: our IT guy, Francis, requested to lend a gloved hand)


(Photo: Planted parsley, cilantro, dill and oregano seeds “from the ground up", all ready for their sunny spot to start growing.)

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Thanks for sharing your Cancer Victory Garden™, Cheryl! This is exactly the type of project and adventure that will help inspire your patients to try their hand at this at home. Successful, low-budget small projects often lead to bigger ones. Your herb garden tray may be the first step to making use of the space in your cancer center's courtyard for vegetable gardening. Please keep us up to date. Parsley does usually take a long time to sprout, so don't give up!

Cultivating health through a garden's nourishment of both body and soul,

Diana Dyer, MS, RD

1 comment:

cheryl said...

Diana- I'm so excited that you included me in your blog. Thanks!! I'll share this with my co-workers.
The dill and oregano already sprouted in just a week. Thanks for letting me know about the parsley--I was wondering why it was so far behind. I'll keep you posted. Cheryl