SG562: Resident Farmer Trevor Johnson Discusses Organic and Hydroponic Greenhouse Gardening

Trevor Johnson is the Resident Farmer at the Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital in Michigan. In 2012, the hospital launched an organic greenhouse with the main goal of feeding the sick patients. Little did Trevor know, the hospital’s greenhouse has become a community center where Michigan residents can take cooking classes right inside the hospital. So many great tips and takeaways on this week’s interview that I can not wait to share with you all.

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“Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson.

Trevor Johnson class
Greenhouse interior
Greenhouse ed center

Interview Questions

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to work as the head gardener and resident farmer at the greenhouse?

Time Stamp: 25:30

How did a career in gardening end up so fantastic for you?

Time Stamp 28:15

Well, back in September 2012, Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital in Michigan launched the organic greenhouse with the goal of using the crops to feed the patients. How did this idea originally come about?

Time Stamp 30:10

Hospitals are realizing the value in providing fresh, local, and organic food for their patients. I’m very curious, do patients and families appreciate the efforts?

Time Stamp 33:50

How about in terms of healing. Are patients able to experience the hands-on healing effects of gardening first hand?

Time Stamp 37:30

What resources do you have for listeners who would like to try out grafting?

Time Stamp 40:50

What’s a typical day like for you, Trevor?

Time Stamp 43:50

You mentioned the 10-hour mark for sunlight. Is that kind of the sweet spot for someone in a greenhouse?

Time Stamp 47:20

Let’s talk a little bit more about hydroponics. Everything in your greenhouse is grown hydroponically, correct?

Time Stamp 48:50

Do you get perlite in huge quantities?

Time Stamp 54:45

Of the three hydroponic systems you can choose from, which of the three would you pick?

Time Stamp 56:45

Is there truly an accelerated growth with hydroponics?

Time Stamp 57:45

I read that the estimated production of basil is 700lb per year out of your greenhouse. That sounds like heaven to me! Why the focus on basil?

Time Stamp 1:00:35

Are there any vegetables you wished you could grow, but you simply don’t/can’t?

Time Stamp 1:02:20

Why are bato buckets also called dutch buckets?

Time Stamp 1:03:35

You’re also adding in peat. Is there a good peat to perlite ratio? Also, what role does peat play in all of this?

Time Stamp 1:04:25

What is Coco Coir?

Time Stamp 1:06:05

What crops are going at the greenhouse?

Time Stamp 1:06:55

Where does all the produce go?

Time Stamp 1:08:25

Pest management is something greenhouse growers always have to be aware of. Your main pesticide is ladybugs, is that true?

Time Stamp 1:09:35

You can accomplish so much with sharp streams of water to get rid of those pests. Do you try anything like that?

Time Stamp 1:12:10

How do you source your good bugs and how do you release these bad bugs?

Time Stamp 1:13:35

Tell us about crop harvesting. Is it all by hand?

Time Stamp 1:16:35

What are some of your favorite recipes that you share with folks?

Time Stamp 1:20:50

Speaking of cooking, I heard you had a 90-seat demonstration kitchen in the hospital where healthy cooking classes are offered to the community.

Time Stamp 1:22:45

It’s not only your mission to feed the sick with healthy food, but it’s also your mission to educate as well, correct?

Time Stamp 1:25:35

How do you coordinate and communicate with the hospital chefs?

Time Stamp 1:27:15

In terms of cost, what has been the impact of the greenhouse on food costs for the hospital?

Time Stamp 1:28:55

Do you have any final thoughts about the importance of organic growing or growing food in general? 

Time Stamp 1:30:30

Trevor Johnson Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital Greenhouse on the Still Growing Gardening Podcast 6ftmama blog


Resident Farmer Trevor Johnson at Henry Ford

Building a Hospital Greenhouse

Events at Henry Ford

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Jennifer Ebeling
Jennifer Ebeling is a proud Minnesotan and U of MN alumni. Gooooooo Gophers! Each week, Jennifer produces and hosts Still Growing - a gardening podcast dedicated to helping you and your garden grow. The show is an in-depth interview format. Guests featured on the show share a passion for gardening and include authors, bloggers, professional gardeners, etc. Listeners and guests of the show can join the Still Growing community on Facebook. It's a place to ask questions, share garden stories, interact with great guests featured on the show, and continue to grow and learn. Jennifer and her husband Philip have four children, a big golden lab named Sonny, and live in lovely Maple Grove, Minnesota. P.S. When she's not teaching her four kids a new card game - or teaching them how to drive a car - Jennifer loves inspiring individuals and groups to maximize and personalize their home & garden.
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