Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Corporate Community Gardens Can Improve Morale, Health and Reputations

The Society of Human Resources Management website contains an interesting article about how employer-sponsored community gardens can benefit a workplace in a number of ways. First, it creates teamwork as the employees volunteer to work together on the garden (which is generally less stressful than regular work projects). Second, it exposes employees to healthy food (which could reduce employer health costs in the long run when the employees learn to eat healthier food). Some employers harvest food from their gardens, bring it into the employee break rooms and let employees take home as much of the produce as they want for free. The thought is that they will eat fresher and healthier food and appreciate a break on their food bill. Preference is usually given to employees who worked in the garden, but not always. Finally, the garden can contribute to the greater community when produce is donated to area homeless shelters, soup kitchins and food banks (like through the Plant a Row program).

The article highlighted that start-up costs were reasonable and decreased after the first year. Some employers actually hire and pay part-time Garden Managers to maintain the garden when the employees lose interest (like during the hot summer months). Another alternative could be to partner with another community garden to develop a win-win solution. The non-profit community garden could help with the employer's garden in return for financial support from the employer.

[Editor's Note: The May 5, 2011 edition of Columbus Alive highlighted a new local business which will help any company create a gardening program (even in containers) and coach your employees into helping. Check out Green Thumb Revolution if you want more information.

You can read the article for yourself at SHRM's website.

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