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Hospital Serves Foods from its own Rooftop Garden

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Urban gardens are popping up all over the city, and now there's one in an unusual location: Lenox Hill Hospital. NY1's Erin Billups filed the following report.

The roof on top of Lenox Hill Hospital has been transformed into an oasis of sorts—the brain-child of the hospital's Integrative Health and Therapies Director Robert Graham.

"We've got this pineapple mint which has a great looking leaf. We have this chocolate mint. We've got spearmint," Graham says. "To my knowledge, this is the first ever edible, organic, teachable, educational, roof top garden in New York City."

On top of a hospital, that is.

The chefs pick fresh organic herbs and fruit from the garden on a daily basis to use in cafeteria and patient meals.

"We did like a roof top pizza, with basil. We used the thyme in different types of salads, pasta salads and stuff. The quality of the taste of the food and what we put out there—it's incredible," says Lenox Hill Hospital Catering Operations Manager Bruce Sand.

Graham and gardener Kristin Monji say it's all in an effort to get people to think differently about what they put in their body.

"What I really want people to do is just for people to come together, and have this conversation about healthy eating, sustainability, organic, community gardens," Graham says.

"I think there's something really powerful about when you see something like mint or basil growing, you tend to look at your food maybe just a little bit differently, and you can kind of imagine how it's coming to you, who grew it," Monji says.

The purpose of this garden is also to inspire and teach health professionals how to use these herbs and vegetables on their own, with the hopes that, that knowledge will transfer to those they treat and serve.

"That's not to say that every single doctor has to eat healthy, work out, don't smoke, and live a stress reduction life style. I think it's just bringing more attention to walking our walk and talking our talk," Graham says.

He says the garden also encourages a return to seeing vegetables and herbs as keys to preventative medicine.

"I think we're slowly starting to change the way we look at what we're trying to achieve, which, ultimately—it is not disease management. It's really—what we're trying to achieve is health."

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