Staff members at the University Vermont Medical Center are addressing food insecurity from their own gardens.
The initiative is called “Plant for the People.” The city of Burlington started the cause last year. Kristin Fontaine, UVMMC’s Senior Pediatric Outreach Coordinator, says they wanted to do something similar this year.
“We just knew that food insecurity had been really heightened by the COVID pandemic, and we wanted to encourage people to support their neighbors,” said Fontaine.
Several departments came together to put on Thursday’s Plant for the People. Red Wagon Plants provided nearly 400 seedlings for doctors, nurses, and employees to pick up throughout the day.
“We have cabbage and kale and cauliflower and broccoli was like the big seller. That one went really quickly. Lots of lettuces. The tomatoes have been really popular. We just tried to have a variety of vegetables that people can plant,” said Fontaine.
Staff are encouraged to plant their seedlings and donate them to a local food shelf once they are ripe. One employee grows a salsa garden and enjoys sharing her vegetables with her neighbors.
“When I saw that there were some plants that were going to be available to us, I thought that was great. We usually have extra vegetables and stuff. We try to bring it in and offer it to people that don’t have any,” said Senior Sonographer Lynn Tetreault.
UVMMC plans to give away all 384 plants. The program coordinators also hope to track donations.