At Centra Health’s Lynchburg General Hospital, Tim Schoonmaker says his mission is “partnering with you to live your best life.” To that end, Lynchburg General has implemented a state-of-the-art micro-farm system from Babylon Micro-Farms right inside their food service department, and the facility has been harvesting the benefits ever since. After all, healing and wellness begins with what you’re putting on your dinner plate.

A Practical Solution

Rooftop farms have been around a while and have been somewhat successful. Even Harvard Business School has planted and harvested mini crops – but what happens to a farm in the winter in Boston? At Babylon Micro-Farms, we’ve taken the weather dilemma out of the picture; we provide portable indoor, modular, soil-free farming systems that yield fresh produce all year long. Lynchburg General’s farm is situated in its cafeteria, so the distance from farm to plate is a matter of feet. With conventional farming, the average distance that produce travels from farm to table is 1500 miles, and about 40% of produce ends up being thrown away before it ever reaches the consumer. Micro-farms eliminate travel (and its carbon footprint) and waste. Forbes praised the Babylon system and noted the simple, sustainable, and scalable nature of the units (as well as the high return on investment). Fifteen square feet of a micro-farm produces the same as 2000 square feet of an outdoor farm. The fixed monthly cost and superior support from our staff are welcome at Lynchburg General.

Sustainable Success

Schoonmaker values the sustainable nature of the micro-farm.  He appreciates that, as the chef, he is in control of the safety of his produce. There is a significant reduction of risk from spoilage, and there is no need for pesticides whatsoever. Lynchburg General has seen an overall cost reduction and an increase in health benefits with the Babylon indoor farm. The app which supports our system is comprehensive and user friendly, guiding the hospital staff from planting to transfer to harvest. We control the lighting and the irrigation remotely from our headquarters, so the guess work is removed from the process, leaving team at Lynchburg free to tend to their business of keeping staff, patients, and visitors well fed and healthy. Schoonmaker notes, “We looked at others, but Babylon Micro-Farms was the A-to-Z approach we were looking for.”

A Visible Difference

The micro-farm, stationed in the dining hall of the hospital, clearly in view of the public, generates excitement for both patients and staff. It serves to remind patients and visitors of the facility’s commitment to serving farm-fresh, sustainable produce. Further, Schoonmaker points out that it brings life into the hospital and provides peace of mind for staff, patients, and visitors alike. 

Eliminating waste and risk, reducing costs and increasing yields, and all the while providing nutrient-rich greens, the Babylon Micro-Farm units are currently making healthcare systems even healthier, and they just may be the way of the future for sustainable hospital food sources.