Whether you work in management or spend your day in a cube farm, encouraging your boss to create company gardens for employees can be a win-win proposition. Gardening at work can give apartment dwellers access to free vegetables or supply the company cafeteria with organically-grown healthy produce. For these reasons and many more, company gardening is an idea that's catching on in corporate America.
What is a Corporate Garden?
Just like it sounds, a corporate garden is an area dedicated to growing vegetables and garden-type fruit. This can be a green space located on the company's property or it can be inside an atrium where vegetables have replaced the traditional snake plants, peace lilies, and philodendrons.
Touted as a means to improve mental, physical and emotional health of employees, gardening at work does have its benefits:
- Physical activity offsets the negative effect of sedentary jobs. Research shows an inactive lifestyle increases health risks for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. A lack of exercise also increases feelings of anxiety and depression. Replacing 30 minutes of sitting with light activity can improve health, reduce employee absenteeism, and cut health care costs. Gardening at work can motivate employees to get this much needed exercise.
- Working side-by-side in a shared company garden eases the tension between upper management and employees. It fosters social interactions, teamwork, and cooperation.
- A corporate garden improves a company's image. It demonstrates a commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. Donating fresh produce to a local food bank strengthens a company's ties to community. Additionally, green space and interactive landscaping is an attractive feature for potential employees.
Corporate Garden Info
If company gardening sounds like a promising idea for your company, here's what you'll need to get started:
- Talk it up. Discuss the idea with coworkers and management. Point out the benefits, but be prepared for resistance. Decide who will care for the garden and who will benefit. Will the work be shared or will employees have their own plot? Will the produce benefit the company cafeteria, be donated to a local food bank, or do the workers benefit from their labor?
- Location, location, location. Determine where gardens for employees will be located. Interactive landscape is a keen idea, but years of lawn chemical applications may not make the grounds surrounding corporate buildings the most desirable place to grow food. Other options include roof-top container gardening, window gardening in offices, or hydroponic tower gardens in unoccupied rooms.
- Make it practical. Setting up gardening space is just one aspect of incorporating a company-wide garden. Consider when gardening activities will take place. If employees work in the garden on breaks or during lunch, when will they need to clean-up and change clothes before returning to work?
- Keep employees motivated. Loss of interest is certainly one reason company leaders may not be hot on plowing up huge areas of the company's landscaped grounds. Overcome this resistance by implementing a plan to keep employees motivated in the company gardening project. Incentives like free produce for garden helpers or a friendly competition between departments can keep the interest, as well as the vegetables, growing season after season.
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Laura Miller has been gardening all her life. Holding a degree in Biology, Nutrition, and Agriculture, Laura's area of expertise is vegetables, herbs, and all things edible. She lives in Ohio.
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