Corporate Gardens

Articles
June 04, 2010

Corporate Gardens

Check out the backyard of some Fortune 500 companies and you might be surprised what you find next to the parking lot, or on the roof of the parking garage… a vegetable garden.

Check out the backyard of some Fortune 500 companies and you might be surprised what you find next to the parking lot, or on the roof of the parking garage… a vegetable garden. While inside, suits and spreadsheets dominate, out back employees are busy planting seeds and pulling up weeds with the hopes of taking home a rich harvest- yes gardens are even popping up at those offices that dream up the tasty treats and ready made meals that dominate the center aisles of the supermarket. Corporate gardens are thought to be a result of the growing desire for local and sustainable, as well as a reflection of a more thoughtful and down to earth workforce- a possible result of a struggling economy.

We're eating out less, cooking more at home and really paying attention to our food; especially fresh, seasonal and local- can’t get any more local than growing your own. So what could be better than putting in some time to tend to your plot and in due time, taking home the bounty to enjoy with family and friends?

Corporate gardens are thought to boost company morale, by aiding community development; which can have social benefits - great time to bond with coworkers, economic benefits - company cafeterias benefit, environmental benefits - for a variety of reasons, and political benefits - seeing your boss weeding can certainly help take the edge off in the boardroom. Having fresh produce to take home or donate to local food banks and taking time every day or a few days a week to step out of the office undoubtedly helps improve quality of life. In fact, Human Resource Executive magazine named an employer-sponsored garden one of the top five employee benefits of 2010.

Decorative shrubbery or a tasty tomato and crunchy carrot? Breakfast meetings with doughnuts piled high or fruits and berries from out back? Office refrigerators full of moldy leftovers or packed with freshly harvested cucumbers, snap peas, carrots and radishes? It seems like a fairly easy decision with numerous benefits, but many companies are discovering that arable dirt is hard to come by. Either surrounded by buildings in center city or acres of lifeless un-arable land, creating a company garden is sometimes easier said than done. But nonetheless, many companies are finding ways around these mere bumps in the road.

Company gardens have been around since the early 1800s; their popularity fluctuated over the years, but have always been seen as a huge benefit for both employees and employer alike. Corporate gardens make people happier, and therefore more productive. It’s a win-win.