ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- Flower gardens surrounding the St. Cloud Hospital could bloom a little brighter this year with the help of fertilizer produced from waste food.
The hospital installed a system to grind and dehydrate waste food about two years ago. Instead of going down the drain, the food is run through a pulping machine, then dried. The material is reduced by about 96 percent in the process.
The hospital experimented last year with using the end product to fertilize a few flower and native grass gardens on hospital grounds.
The Flower Bed owner Pam Tetrick-Tadych said the test areas responded well to the fertilizer. "It was just phenomenal to see how fast everything grew compared to the other beds. It was amazing," she said.
This year, the material is being mixed into the soil and used in most planting areas.
In addition to providing fertilizer, the system also reduces phosphorous levels in the facility's wastewater. The St. Cloud Hospital serves an average of 900 patient meals daily.