Community Health Network, in partnership with Community Heights, the neighborhood group around Community Hospital East, recently partnered with the Indiana Medical History Museum and IPS School 88 to build a “medicinal garden” on the school’s grounds. Volunteers from around the network came together to plant 10 herbs in a series of garden plots and to construct a shed that houses gardening tools and a local water supply. Wellspring Pharmacy, located within Community hospitals, also provided volunteers.
The herbs planted include: dill, basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, purple sage, lavender, lemon balm, peppermint and spearmint. “Some of these have medicinal as well as culinary and aromatic properties,” according to Pam Conrad, R.N., complementary therapy nurse aromatherapist. “Whether to alleviate headache or to ease anxiety or insomnia, herbal remedies are the oldest form of medicine on our planet,” explained Conrad, “and even the benefit of gardening alone is known to lower blood pressure and elevate one’s mood.”
Garden labels with educational information about each plant have been added to each plot to help inform visiting schoolchildren. While some herbs are cultivated for their aromatherapy oils or used in dried form, others have immediate use for culinary consumption. The crops will be harvested and sold at local markets, with the proceeds funneled back into the upkeep of the garden itself.
“When we had this opportunity to connect with Wellspring and the Indiana Medical History Museum, we saw it as a way to add to our presence within the community,” explained Darrell Unsworth, director of community economic development for Community Health Network. In addition to providing inspiration, technical assistance and a few starter plants, master gardeners from the museum supplied a list of herbs and plants that had been used historically in the creation of medicine and treatment of different ailments.
Located behind School 88 on 16th street, approximately one block east of Community Hospital East, the garden is partially funded through a $5,000 grant that Community Heights received from the Greater Indianapolis Neighborhood Initiative (GINI) with support from the hospital. This grant provided the finances necessary to build a water tank and shed equipped with communal gardening tools for neighborhood residents to use on their plots. A pair of stone benches under a large, shady tree on the site was also donated by Wellspring for visitors and residents to enjoy.
Additional land is dedicated to separate neighborhood plots, which are available to rent for $5 per month through the Community Heights neighborhood association. “Residents are growing fresh produce for their families on this land,” said Unsworth. “Some are growing vegetables and some are growing flowers, while others are sponsoring plots and donating what they grow to homeless shelters in the city,” he added.