Employee-gardeners grow for good in the corporate backyard
Chieftain seed potatoes, one of the varieties planted at Company Farm. We also planted Carola and Superior.
EMPLOYEES at Gardener's Supply started Company Farm in 2013. The goal: Grow and harvest vegetables to donate to local food systems that serve people in need.
In 2015, we added plantings at our distribution center in Milton, VT.
The farm started with a set of thirty 4 x 6-foot raised beds on the hillside beside our Burlington, VT, headquarters. At one time, they were display gardens for flowers, but we put them to more practical use: growing food. In 2015, we expanded by adding planting beds at our distribution facility in Milton, VT.
Our goal is to grow as much food as possible. We also want to learn how to make the site efficient, beautiful and productive. Most important, we hope to inspire and engage employee-volunteers to provide direct service to the community.
Eventually, we want to share what we've learned, so other organizations can have their own Company Farms. Wouldn't it be great if more groups could create simple, productive, volunteer-run mini-farms? With a small investment, the returns could be big, including employees with dirt under their fingernails and smiles on their faces.
Grow food, not turf.
Our approach so far: Keep it simple and sustainable.
- We grow in raised beds, to maximize productivity and minimize weeding.
- We are grow a single crop that has a simplified plant, grow and harvest cycle.
- We work with local farmers, who mentor us and share advice on best practices for our area.
- We have a Farm Team of employees that cares for the potatoes during the 12-week growth cycle.
At our Burlington, VT, headquarters, Company Farm is right next to the parking lot.
At Gardener's Supply, we believe in doing "good works." In fact, we've donated 8 percent of our profits to gardening-related efforts since the day we opened in 1983. Community service is not just a company policy, tended to by a few people. It's a founding principle that's part of our corporate culture. Each employee is encouraged to support the community in his or her own way. With Company Farm, we hope to provide employees with another way we can give back and work together as we do it.
Follow us through the season on our blog, Gardener's Journal.