Aspirus Wausau Hospital's vertical garden yields yummy harvest

Last week, Aspirus Wausau Hospital's cafeteria featured lettuce grown in its vertical garden in its Nutrition Month theme menu item: Apple Craisin Salad.

The lettuce seedlings were planted February 1 and harvested 28 days later on March 1. The lettuce was then incorporated into the delicious salad served on March 4.

The vertical garden is part of Aspirus’ Sustainability Initiative. It allows Aspirus to grow food locally through a sustainable, organic and hydroponic process, helping to reduce Aspirus' carbon footprint and save in operational costs. A single garden unit can provide 7,260 servings of lettuce annually.

Funding for the garden was provided by a grant from the Community Foundation of Northcentral Wisconsin. This vertical garden will allow employees to enjoy fresh produce incorporated into Aspirus Wausau Hospital cafeteria menu items year-round and allow Aspirus Wausau to expand its Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) Program. The FVRx Program helps eligible patients eat more fruits and veggies.

In addition to lettuce products such as leaf lettuce, spinach and kale, Aspirus Wausau Nutrition and Food Services staff are excited to try growing basil, cilantro, cherry tomatoes, strawberries and more.

Aspirus Langlade recently introduced its own vertical garden. The goal is to have at least one unit at each hospital.