Hamilton General Hospital (HGH) is greening its grounds. The Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) site recently planted a collection of native trees and a pollinator garden as part of an effort to make the space more welcoming and environmentally friendly. Both projects are part of an ongoing partnership with Friendly Streets Hamilton, which aims to enhance walkability and bikeability in downtown Hamilton.
“We’re located right in the heart of Hamilton, and it’s important for us to be a good neighbour,” says Teresa Smith, Vice President of HGH. “We’ve partnered with some fantastic community organizations to create more green space on our property, which is good for our health, and for the environment.”
Planting native trees for health
Trees for Hamilton, a local organization that works with partners across the city to plant native trees, helped to coordinate the planting of fourteen new trees on the HGH property. Native species, including Tamarac, white spruce, and serviceberry were chosen to provide a habitat for beneficial insects and animals. Within the next few years, Trees for Hamilton intends to plant a total of 40 trees on the site.
“The closer trees are to people the better”
“We believe that trees are important to human health,” says Dr. Myles Sergeant, a local family doctor and member of the Trees for Hamilton board of directors. “Studies have shown that trees improve respiratory health by cleaning the air, help to reduce stress and create a sense of calm, and provide shade during hot sunny days. The closer trees are to people the better. It can be challenging to find places downtown to plant trees so we’re grateful to have the hospital as a partner in this.”
A pollinator garden for downtown Hamilton
In addition to the newly planted trees, HGH is now also home to a pollinator garden. Pollinator gardens include plants and flowers that attract insects and birds to fertilize plants. By adding a pollinator garden, HGH is joining a local and international movement to create pollinator-friendly spaces. The Hamilton Pollinator Paradise Project worked with hospital staff on this project.
These two projects build on the green space created last year when HGH installed a series of vegetable plots in partnership with Hamilton Victory Gardens. The raised beds are located behind HHS’s Regional Rehabilitation Centre. Recreation therapists often take patients to the gardens, where they’re able to do gardening tasks as part of functional rehabilitation. A group of volunteers maintains the gardens and the produce is donated to local food banks.
“We are working on a number of projects to make our site and this part of our city a healthier place,” says Teresa. “It’s inspiring to see so many community partners pitch in to make it happen.”
HGH continues to work with Friendly Streets Hamilton to improve health and accessibility in the neighbourhoods surrounding the hospital. Upcoming projects include creating a pedestrian crosswalk