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Building a Hospital Greenhouse

The leadership at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital had a vision to serve as a national model for wellness by providing organically grown food to its patients and community

In September 2012, the vision became a reality with the opening of the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital Greenhouse. The Greenhouse grows produce hydroponically, provides healthy meals to its patients and community while reducing food costs, and makes a significant impact on the childhood obesity epidemic by providing clinically based programs for a variety of audiences, including children.

Greenhouse facts

  • The Greenhouse at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital is Michigan’s first hospital-based greenhouse.
  • The greenhouse and education center was funded entirely by and anonymous donor.
  • 1500-square-foot greenhouse, attached to a 1500-square-foot education center.
  • Year-round growing of diverse organic produce and herbs for patients, Henry’s café, and the hospital’s weekly seasonal farmer’s market, Henry's Market on Main.
  • Produce is supplied for patient meals and hospital café use. The educational center provides innovative programs geared toward the children and the community. Primary focus is to educate about and prevent chronic conditions, such as childhood obesity.

Nutrient film technique

  • Basil and specialty greens in growing and nursery channels
  • Continuously circulating water with organic nutrients
  • Estimated production of 700 pounds of basil per year
  • Projected value: $12,000 per year

Dutch buckets

  • Three 26-foot rows, including 20 varieties of tomatoes
  • Estimated production of 1000 pounds of organic produce per year
  • Projected value: $15,500 per year.

Additional features

  • Adaptable planting system that can be used in many settings, including classrooms, homes and in the community
  • Automated roof vents and window shades adjust to temperature, wind, and light changes throughout the day and close at night to retain heat
  • An alarm system sends a signal to the resident farmer’s cell phone when there are power disruptions or if greenhouse temperatures exceed set parameters
  • Hospital’s food costs are being reduced by less need to purchase produce
  • Organic produce means no pesticide, herbicide or fungicide residue on food
  • Microgreens, requested by the hospital’s chefs, are seeded and harvested weekly
  • An educational and therapeutic experience for patients and community, with tours, school field trips and workshops

Greenhouse layout

  • Designer: Howard Resh, Ph.D., pioneering hydroponic researcher, author and practitioner. 
  • Consultant: Fred Petitt, Ph.D., director of Agriculture & Water Sciences for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts

The hope behind the greenhouse is that it will evolve, educate, inspire and grow with the hospital and community.

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