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Weldon Writes ... Almost a Blog

Starting a Company Community Garden

For the past year or so, my employer, Independent School Management, has supported wellness initiatives for employees. With this in mind, I proposed starting a small but highly productive vegetable garden that ISM employees would maintain and harvest, an ISM "community garden" on the company's grounds. Here is a synopsis of my proposal to the company CEO.

First, I attached a crude diagram to show how I envisioned starting the project. First, we could build three narrow beds (8' X 2') on the side of the main building that receives sun most of the day. There would be a modest cost to the company to build the raised beds and a trellis, and garden soil to fill the beds. As for seeds and plants, I always have more than I need from my own home garden, and I suspect other gardeners at ISM would be more than willing to bring in what they have.

As for tending the garden, it would be done before work, at lunch, after work, and perhaps during weekends. Using raised beds and vertical gardening techniques, the garden would require minimal maintenance. Other than the time required to build the beds and trellis, very little other work time would be expended.

I also suggested planting only vegetables that can be handpicked (like tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce), don't require cooking, and that produce abundantly over the growing season. The idea is to provide a community garden where employees can easily pick ripe vegetables and eat them minutes later in the lunch room. Once the employees see the value of the project, perhaps we can expand the program and add more beds the following year, plant fruits like blueberries and strawberries, etc.

What was the CEO's reaction? "I think it is a marvelous idea and something that we should implement as soon as possible to get the benefits of the whole season. I am excited about the possibility. Thanks for the proposal. Let's get going!"

The reaction from my fellow employees has been equally enthusiastic, so we should have no problem finding volunteers to get the project off the ground (well, "in" the ground!) when spring weather arrives.

Unfortunately, the ISM "backyard" is currently blanketed with snow, so we can't build the beds yet. Soon. Very soon. I will keep you posted as we develop the garden and will provide photos along the way. Should be fun!

In the meantime, I'd love to hear from other companies that have developed their own community gardens. What are the caveats? What advice do you have to offer? Anything you can share would be welcome!

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