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Institute of Living restarts community garden initiative

The greenhouse on the campus has been redone and there are now a half dozen gardens growing everything from cantaloupes to eggplants to basil and sunflowers.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Hartford Healthcare’s Institute of Living is encouraging its patients and its staff to dish the dirt.

With fewer COVID-19 concerns, The Institute of Living has restarted its community garden initiative and the fruits – and vegetables – of their labor seem to be paying dividends. 

The greenhouse on the campus has been redone and there are now a half dozen gardens growing everything from cantaloupes to eggplants to basil and sunflowers.

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“We have over eight different programs on our campus participating and basically, we wanted to create a community, something wonderful," Melissa Deasy, the director of residential and ancillary support at the Institute of Living said.

Deasy added that beyond the aesthetics of the gardens, the benefits to the patients have been noteworthy. 

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“We have some clients who couldn’t even go outside because of their level of anxiety and now they’re in the garden and they are picking, they are also socializing, it’s an all-around amazing initiative.”

 Tinesha Hall, a patient at the Institute of Living has been getting her hands dirty with the garden program since February when it was brought back. 

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“It deals with farming and just giving back to the community… it’s amazing and I’m happy with the outcome,” she said.

Scott Stallings, a chef for the Institute of Living was happy to add that he had not needed to buy any vegetables from a grocery store for the past month – he’s cooking from what is being brought from the free vegetable stand right on premises. 

“Food is the way to the heart so I think our clients have thrived since we’ve started growing fresh produce here.” Deasy added, “this is really about creating a community,” Stallings said.

Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at jaltman@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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