Aspirus Upper Peninsula Hospitals continue sustainability efforts with new hydroponic gardens

Aspirus Health’s Upper Peninsula hospitals are trying their hand at sustainable gardening with the introduction of vertical hydroponic gardens. These new gardens are part of Aspirus Health’s systemwide environmental sustainability initiative.

“The gardens allow us to grow food locally through a sustainable, organic and hydroponic process, helping to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Jenn Jenich-Laplander, Regional Communications and Community Engagement Lead.

The four hydroponic gardens recently added across the Upper Peninsula region join others established throughout the Aspirus system over the last two years.

All Aspirus UP hospitals – Iron River, Ironwood, Keweenaw and Ontonagon – will be growing lettuce as their first crop, but a variety of fruits and vegetables can be grown in as little as 23 days. The gardens can potentially yield 7,260 servings of lettuce annually at each hospital. The lettuce will be used for wraps, salads and other creative dishes in the hospital cafeterias. The gardens also allow for the expansion of the Aspirus Prescription for Health (FVRx) Program. The FVRx Program is designed to help eligible patients eat more fruits and vegetables.

“We are thrilled to have this opportunity and to add this project to our sustainability projects at each UP hospital,” Jenich-Laplander said. “This is another way Aspirus is transforming to address some of the top health priorities in our community.”

Aspirus employees and Green Team members are eager to help with planting and harvesting the gardens.

The Aspirus Sustainability Initiativewas established in 2018 as a coordinated, strategic effort to identify and implement environmental sustainability initiatives across Aspirus Health’s Wisconsin and Upper Michigan service area with the aim of improving the lives of patients and the health of communities.

Aspirus is committed to aggressive sustainability goals for the health of the communities it serves. Goals for the 17 Aspirus system hospitals include reducing carbon emissions by 80% and reducing energy costs by 50%, both by 2030. The Aspirus UP Hospitals continue to focus on environmentalism through recycling programs, electric vehicles and lawnmowing, sustainable landscaping and more.