Vegetable Patches at Work are a Nice Perk

grand rapids photo

Image from Grand Rapids Press

Some big companies with land to spare are providing vegetable patches for their employees to work on during their breaks and during lunch. It's a nice perk, though a raise might be nicer, and it certainly is good for morale.

In California Google and Yahoo have had organic gardens for a while. But more traditional companies have started to join the trend. Employees get to take home the fresh produce and in some cases the vegetables are served in the company cafeteria.

haberman workers photo

Image from Natural Home

According to the New York Times, the idea can work in different ways. At Kohl's department stores near Milwaukee, the organic gardens provide vegetables for a local food bank and for the child care centre located on site. Many of the crops from the gardens, including green peppers, beans, cabbage, squash, salad greens pumpkins and tomatoes, are donated to Hunger Task Force.

At PepsiCo, in New York, the company turned over a huge plot to growing peppers and tomatoes. Two hundred employees signed up to work on the field which was the size of two tennis courts. However this year enthusiasm has waned and only 75 volunteers are pulling their peppers and weeds.

In Minneapolis a public relations firm is sponsoring an organic vegetable garden for employees. Called the Dude Ranch, it has inspired a movement called Employee Sponsored Gardens complete with website and full details of this and other gardens. The company donated the land and the employees provide the labor. Three days a week after work, almost two-thirds of the company's employees head off to work in the garden. They take home the produce and leftovers (zuccini anyone) go to the food banks

work gardens photo

Image from simple good and tasty

At Aveda, near Minneapolis, the workers pay $10 for the season and in return they get a share of the bounty. Participation is encouraged but is not necessary.

As gardening grows in popularity, in many cases it is the employees who have requested the gardens. Especially if they see vast amounts of unused land around the building and don't have their own space at home. Some want to do it to help out a local food bank. Some managers see it as a team building activity. As one said: "It takes the politics out of the job, everybody is on the same level in the garden."

Related Content on