News Dell Children's Marks Earth Day By Creating A Vegetable Garden

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AUSTIN, Texas - (April 22, 2013) - A new bed tower is not the only thing going up at Dell Children's Medical Center of Central Texas. In celebration of Earth Day 2013, Dell Children's is installing a vegetable garden in its Healing Garden.

Dr. Stephen Pont, medical director of the Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity (TCPTCO), his team, and patients, powered by a grant and support from the Austin non-profit Grow Together, have constructed four 4x8 foot raised vegetable beds. Vegetables and herbs will include: tomatoes, eggplant, sweet potatoes, okra, peppers, cilantro, dill, and basil. There will also be edible sage and lavender bushes, grape vines, and marigolds near the beds to attract butterflies and other pollinators.

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"This vegetable garden serves as an educational resource, a relaxing place, and a source of healthy nutrition for our patients," said Pont. "Planting and watching vegetables grow helps children develop interest in and appreciation for the gardening process. When kids experience and participate, they're more likely to eat what is grown and to remember how vegetables power our bodies and keep us healthy."

Once the vegetables are grown and picked, they will be used within the various TCPTCO programs:

"The produce grown also gives children a chance to try new vegetables and see if they like them before families spend money at the store buying new vegetables that parents fear their children may not eat," added Lauren Oliver, registered dietitian, TCPTCO.

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Dell Children's was the world's first LEED Platinum Certified hospital and the new beds are an extension of the facility's commitment to provide a healing environment with a connection to the natural world.

"Stewardship of natural resources and the overall natural environment is a philosophy deeply embedded in Seton's roots," said Michele Van Hyfte, manager of environmental stewardship, Seton Healthcare Family. "Seton has converted many of its hospitals to single-stream recycling, and here at Dell Children's, we've established a pilot hospital 'green' team and started a composting program."

The Dell Children's cafeteria food waste is processed into the type of compost used in the vegetable garden. Seton's cafeterias offer healthy food selections from sustainable sources.

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