Kitchen garden adds flavour to meals at BRHS

A bumper crop of herbs in a newly-established kitchen garden at Bairnsdale Regional Health Service is delivering real benefits for patient meals and some fresh produce for BRHS staff to use.

BRHS Acting Executive Chef Laura Akkerman said the garden was established behind the scenes in spring last year and came alive in January in the outdoor staff dining area – a great way to add some greenery and gorgeous herbal scents to the space, which is right next to the kitchen.

The crop includes continental and curly parsley, basil, spring onions, mint, thyme, rosemary and some dwarf lime trees.

“I believe that BRHS is all about constant improvements and wellbeing,” she said. “The Food Services team is working on ways to improve our recipes by adding a herb garden. It’s helping us to achieve our goal to improve the flavour and quality of our food and reduce costs too.

“I think the garden is adding enjoyment to the dishes we make, and it came to life from empty planter boxes to a kitchen garden that enhances the dishes we serve.”

Laura said Stacey Ryan from BRHS’ facilities team showed exceptional horticultural skill to create the garden. Ideal weather conditions with plenty of sun and rain has ensured a great crop of herbs and produce that the Food Services team is happy to share in small amounts with BRHS staff who also want to achieve something special in their home kitchens.

The garden will be re-planted each season to keep the fresh produce coming, Laura said.

Chef Glen Brettell says he’s all smiles about the kitchen garden. He has been using selected herbs in specialty dishes such as omelettes, pastas and soups for patients who require natural flavours.

”It’s convenient. We have less food wastage because it’s easier to enhance the flavour and quality of the food we serve,” he said.

Fellow chef Jill Smith said she loves going out to the garden to select herbs each day for dishes such as pizza, a potato bake, curries or casseroles, while colleague Sally Gaw uses the herbs to create bruschetta, falafel salad or salsa Verde for fish on Fridays.

BRHS CEO Vicki Farthing applauded the initiative. “The garden allows Food Services to be more creative and to use the freshest ingredients so our patients, staff and visitors enjoy the food more, “she said.

“Food Services and Facilities working together on this shows the value of cooperation in a way that has also improved amenities for our workers. Well done, everyone.”

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