Eskenazi Health employs a range of strategies at the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital to connect to nature and encourage healthy lifestyles, from its calming interior that incorporates plentiful daylighting to the outdoor spaces that can be viewed from numerous locations on the campus. But it was during a planning meeting with one of the landscape architects when the project’s most profound concept was born: a rooftop farm.

“All of us on the owners’ side just looked at each other and knew that this was a genius idea,” says Matthew Gutwein, president and CEO of Health & Hospital Corp. of Marion County, the parent company of Eskenazi. “It reflected so many of the things we were trying to do with this building.”

The Sky Farm, operated and managed by Growing Places Indy, is a 5,000-square-foot edible landscape located on the 35,000-square-foot green roof of the outpatient tower. A full-time horticulturist tends to the space, which is open to staff, patients, and visitors to visit, relax in, and even dig around in the dirt.

During its first growing season, 2,000 pounds of food were harvested, including radishes, greens, and tomatoes. The fresh produce is used at the second-floor food service area, called the Ingram Micro Mobility Marketplace; the on-site Café Soleil restaurant; in patient meals; and for educational cooking classes held on campus and at other Eskenazi Health care centers.

“We want people to get out of their hospital beds and come get some sunlight and fresh air; walk among these beautiful vegetables, fruits, and herbs; and then make that a teachable moment to talk to individuals about what they choose to eat and drink,” Gutwein says. “If we can put a farm on the seventh story of a building, then you, too, can put a garden in your backyard or community space.”

For more on the Sidney & Lois Eskenazi Hospital, read:

Eskenazi Health Embraces Its Civic Duty

Podcast: Design Goals Of A New Public Safety-Net Hospital

Eskenazi Health: Art history