Greenhouses: How they work

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Greenhouses are prefect for someone wishing to grow plants year around. But how do they work? Greenhouses are usually made of glass or plastic. Why? Because greenhouses use solar radiation to trap heat inside and the glass/plastic allows heat to enter easily into the building structure. This design helps create an artificial environment to sustain plants inside when it is too cold outside. The heat from the sun enters through the roof and warms the plants and soil inside. As the heat around the soil begins to rise it is replaced by surrounding cool air which immediately starts to warm up. This system rapidly warms the greenhouse.

In temperate climates (growing season and a dormant season in which temperatures can get below zero) additional heat sources may be needed, including heat fans. As plants absorb the energy of the sun, they do not emit it quickly but instead retain it, which is another reason why the greenhouse stays so warm. There is a chance of overheating occurring, which is why vents need to be installed near the roof to let lighter/hotter air escape and near the floor where cool air can enter. Greenhouse plants also need plenty of water. To make it easier, drip irrigation systems are commonly used, along with overhead sprinklers.

Greenhouse sizes vary. The larger the greenhouse, the more expensive it will be. Greenhouses can be purchased or built. Building a greenhouse used to be difficult but now there are materials you can buy that are specifically designed for building a greenhouse. Keep in mind that greenhouses are also beneficial to the environment because they reduce fossil fuel use by allowing us to grow local vegetables and fruits during cold months rather than having to import them. If you would like to improve the environment and have plants and vegetables available to you year round, consider investing in a greenhouse!

Learn more at http://www.gundersenenvision.org.

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Gundersen Health System and the Farm2School Program

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Gundersen Health System is an active member of the Farm2School Program. What is this program? The Farm2School program helps to build and establish partnerships between K-5th grade schools and local farmers to encourage healthy eating and proper nutrition among students and their families. This program is unique to each state and it can be found in all states. La Crosse County participates in the Farm2School program and Gundersen’s Certified Executive Chef (C.E.C) Thomas Sacksteder supports this program by visiting local schools during the school year to educate students on healthy eating and recipes. This program also includes a “Harvest of the Month” in which one local food is selected and promoted throughout schools. Chef Thomas uses the “Harvest of the Month” in the recipes he showcases to students. Chef Thomas has received many awards because of the success with the Farm2School program.

Chef Thomas also received two grants from the American Culinary Federation (ACF) “Chefs Move to Schools” program. This program enables chefs and schools to form a partnership to encourage healthy eating and proper nutrition for students. This program was started by First Lady Michelle Obama and White House Senior Policy Advisor for Healthy Food Initiatives, Sam Kass, in May, 2010. These grants have supported a project created by Chef Thomas called the “Chef Thomas Bean Challenge.” Students are given packets of beans at the start of the summer and are encouraged to plant them. In 2013 his challenge reached 5,500 students.

How does the Farm2School program relate to sustainability? The Farm2School program educates students about eating healthy local food. Showcasing local foods supports local farmers and the environment. How does this help the environment? Food purchased by local farmers does not have to travel as far, which saves fuel and energy which in turn is better for the environment. Buying local also supports the local economy and provides people with fresher food. If you are part of an institution or an individual interested in partaking in this program check out the helpful links below!

http://www.chefsmovetoschools.org/

http://www.acfchefs.org/ACF/Partnerships/ChefsMove/ACF/Partnerships/ChefsMove/

http://www.farmtoschool.org/aboutus.php

Love jam? Make it at home!

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Do you purchase jam from the store? If you do, perhaps it’s time to consider making your own. Many people avoid making homemade jam because it is time consuming and sometimes expensive. But there are many benefits to making homemade jam and there are ways to save money while doing it.

When you make homemade jam, you are in control of what goes into it. For example, you can add as much or as little sugar as you want. You also know where the fruit came from and you are avoiding the unnecessary additives that are in many store bought jams. It is a great way to use up fruits from your own backyard if you grow your own fruit trees.

Making jam at home usually provides you with a large amount of leftover jam that can be stored. How could you save money? Jars are expensive, so instead of purchasing them brand new, borrow them from friends or family, or buy them used. It also helps if you are making jam from fruit that you grow or fruit that you received for free. It also better to make jam in the summer when most fruits are in season because they are cheaper fresh!

Are there any other benefits to making jam? Yes, and it involves the environment. Reusing jars will not only save money, but it will also help the environment because jars require essential resources to be created, and it takes energy and fuel in order to transport jars a far distance. If you use local food you are also saving on energy and fossil fuels because local fruits do not need to be transported as far. So if you haven’t considered making your own jam, try it! It’s time consuming, but if you work with your friends and family it could become a new hobby. You will also help the environment. If you are interested in learning basic tips on how to make jam, check out this link: http://www.foodsafety.wisc.edu/assets/preservation/B2909_Jams_2008.pdf

Learn  more about sustainable practices at http://www.gundersenenvision.org/waste-management/sustainable-foods.

 

Buy fresh: Shop your local farmers market

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Have you ever been to a farmers market? If you haven’t, it is worth going. There are many people who have the pre-conceived notion that because the items sold at a farmers market are fresh, they will be expensive. However, farmers markets are usually not expensive at all and in most cases they sell vegetables and fruits cheaper than at a grocery store. Why? Because the items sold at a farmers market are grown and produced by local farmers, so the food doesn’t have to travel as far, thus eliminating large travel expenses. Other benefits of going to a farmers market include
• Getting to know local farmers and how they grow their food
• Supporting your local community
• Getting fresh-picked food
• Finding a large variety and quantity of fruits and vegetables not found at a grocery store
• More than just vegetables (many farmers markets also sell flowers, herbs, dairy, and meat)

At Gundersen Health System we believe that a healthy diet supports a healthy lifestyle, which is why you will find locally sourced food items in our cafeteria such as cottage cheese, yogurt, coffee, and beef. Our Chef, Thomas Sacksteder Certified Executive Chef (C.E.C), visits local schools and teaches young students about seasonal vegetables and fruits, how to prepare them, and why it’s important to buy local. So not only is buying local something we support at Gundersen Health System, but it is also something we teach.

Interested in learning more about sustainable foods at Gundersen Health System? Check out this link to our Envision website: Sustainable Foods

Eat fresh and save money!

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Thinking about starting up your own garden this spring? This blog will share a few tips with you on how to get started. A problem that many beginning gardeners have starting out is they want to plant as much as they possibly can, and buy several different varieties of vegetables and flowers. What ends up happening is the garden becomes so crowded that many of the plants don’t last. Here are a few tips to help you save money and ensure your garden will grow:

  • Less is more! Planting too many plants next to each other can cause overcrowding and prevent your plants from getting equal access to necessary nutrients or water. Instead of planting twelve tomato plants, plant six and space them farther apart. This will help ensure that your plants will grow and provide you with a bountiful harvest. Starting off with fewer vegetables in your garden will also help build up the nutrients in your garden and help you learn what grows best.
  • Use compost as a fertilizer. Fertilizer is essential because it provides plants with the necessary nutrients to grow, like nitrogen. Compost is also free and can be made in your own backyard. Leaf residue, bad vegetables, leftover food or even grass clippings can be added to your compost pile.
  • Plant items you like to eat that would normally cost you a lot of money to buy at the grocery store like herbs.
  • Saving water is important too! Use mulch throughout your garden to retain moisture and prevent you from having to water as much. Mulch can include woodchips, hay or even lawn clippings. Mulch can also prevent weeds from being as prevalent.
  • Plant native plants that are accustomed to the area and do not require as much water.
  • Buy rain barrels that will collect water so you can water your garden for free!
  • Considering using drip irrigation to water your garden. This will allow you to water only certain plants at a steady pace. You can make your own drip irrigation by poking holes in a hose.
  • Reuse items from your home to use in your garden—for example, instead of throwing out your milk jugs, fill them with water and poke holes in the cap to use as a watering mechanism. Or reuse old brooms as scarecrows to keep pesky animals away.
  • Lastly, make sure you are planting your garden in a spot that receives plenty of sunlight!

There are many more tips that can help people save money and energy in the garden so take the time to do your own research. At Gundersen Health System, our new hospital includes an outdoor patio area with plants. Not only does this outdoor garden look beautiful but it will be a peaceful area where patients can go and feel safe. As you can see, gardens can have more than one purpose; they can be used to produce a harvest, for their aesthetic beaut,y or even for healing purposes. So if you haven’t started a garden yet, why not give it a try?

For more information on green practices, visit www.gundersenenvision.org.

Greenhouses: How they work

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Greenhouses are prefect for someone wishing to grow plants year around. But how do they work? Greenhouses are usually made of glass or plastic. Why? Because greenhouses use solar radiation to trap heat inside and the glass/plastic allows heat to enter easily into the building structure. This design helps create an artificial environment to sustain plants inside when it is too cold outside. The heat from the sun enters through the roof and warms the plants and soil inside. As the heat around the soil begins to rise it is replaced by surrounding cool air which immediately starts to warm up. This system rapidly warms the greenhouse. In temperate climates (growing season and a dormant season in which temperatures can get below zero) additional heat sources may be needed, including heat fans. As plants absorb the energy of the sun, they do not emit it quickly, but instead retain it, which is another reason why the greenhouse stays so warm. There is a chance of overheating occurring, which is why vents need to be installed near the roof to let lighter/hotter air escape and near the floor where cool air can enter. Greenhouse plants also need plenty of water. To make it easier, drip irrigation systems are commonly used, along with overhead sprinklers.

Greenhouses can be both large and small depending on what you want. The larger the greenhouse, the more expensive it will be. Greenhouses can be purchased, or they can be built. Building a greenhouse used to be difficult, but now there are materials you can buy that are specifically designed for a greenhouse. Keep in mind that greenhouses are also beneficial to the environment because they reduce fossil fuel use by allowing us to grow local vegetables and fruits during cold months rather than having to import them. If you are someone who wishes to improve the environment and have plants and vegetables available to you year round, consider investing in a greenhouse!

Gundersen Health System and the Farm2School Program

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At Gundersen Health System we are an active member of the Farm2School Program. What is this program? The Farm2School program helps to build and establish partnerships between K-5th grade schools and local farmers to encourage healthy eating and proper nutrition among students and their families. This program is unique to each state and it can be found in all states. La Crosse County participates in the Farm2School program, and our Chef at Gundersen, Thomas Sacksteder Certified Executive Chef (C.E.C), supports this local program by visiting local schools during the school year and educating students on healthy eating and recipes. This program also includes a “Harvest of the Month,” in which one local food is selected and promoted throughout schools. Chef Thomas uses the Harvest of the month in his recipes in which he showcases to students and it is then served in the local schools. Because of the success with the Farm2School program, Chef Thomas has received many awards.

In 2011, Chef Thomas received the Wisconsin state “Leadership in Prevention” award, the Prairie View elementary school “Friend of Education award,” and in 2011-2012 he received the Holmen school district/nutrition service “Friend of Education award.” He also received two grants from the American Culinary Federation (ACF) “Chefs move to schools” program. This program enables chefs and schools to form a partnership to encourage healthy eating and proper nutrition for students. This program was started by the First lady Michelle Obama and the White House Senior Policy advisor for healthy food initiatives, Sam Kass in May, 2010. These grants have supported a project created by Chef Thomas called the “Chef Thomas Bean challenge.” In 2012 his challenge reached 1,600 students and by 2013 it reached 5,500 students. Students are given packets of beans at the start of the summer and are encouraged to plant them.

How does the Farm2School program relate to sustainability? The Farm2School program educates students about eating healthy, local food. Showcasing local foods supports local farmers, and the environment. How does this help the environment? Food purchased by local farmers does not have to travel as far which saves fuel and energy which in turn is better for the environment. Buying local also supports the local economy and provides people with fresher food and encourages a healthy lifestyle. If you are part of an institution or an individual interested in partaking in this program check out the helpful links below!

Helpful Links

http://www.chefsmovetoschools.org/

http://www.acfchefs.org/ACF/Partnerships/ChefsMove/ACF/Partnerships/ChefsMove/

http://www.farmtoschool.org/aboutus.php