The community garden at Hudson Regional Hospital was dedicated to a longtime chef who passed away in 2018.
Wildfred “Freddie” Orozco worked for 12 years at the hospital, where he prepared meals using produce and herbs that he lovingly grew in the garden located next to the hospital.
He planted that garden nearly 10 years ago but tragically died from a massive heart attack at just 58.
“I remember when he first came up with the idea to create a garden,” wife Debra Wells said. “He was so excited and put it together so quickly.”
Orozco was the hospital’s dietary department director, and he’d often cook with what he grew — with herbs and vegetables going into cafeteria food and meals for patients.
“It was a learning experience, because I had never done that before, you know, cook from a garden,” colleague Marvin McCray said. “So I get a chance to see some of the vegetables grow, and the process of taking it and actually putting it into our stuff was really cool.”
After his death, though, his beloved garden was left untended. Then COVID hit, and it was off limits.
But finally, this summer, the garden was brought back. And the ceremony Tuesday officially named the garden after its late creator.
“I love what they’ve done, dedicated the garden in his name,” Wells said. “That was so beautiful, very touching.”
The garden is now open to any resident of Secaucus who wants to work it and reap its rewards, and cafeteria staff members have returned to snipping herbs for recipes.
Note: This article was originally published on Tuesday, October 19th, 2021 on ABC7NY.com.