Can a Dude Ranch Save the Planet and Make Employees Happier?

Office Space Employees Smashing Printer Photo

Image via: PriceGrabber

Sounds like some terrible Office Space bonding experience, or an option on a 401k, right? Well, this "Ranch," of sorts, was actually championed by the employees at Haberman & Associates, a public relations firm in Minneapolis, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.Part bonding experience, part health food education and part learning experience to connect directly with what their clients are going through, the employees at Haberman are not just planting a few herbs, they are harvesting crops. Many of Haberman's clients are agricultural businesses, so while this provides a healthy outlet for staff, it also lets them get more in touch with their clients' needs. One staff member, a self-professed city girl, said she enjoys the chance to better understand her clients through this garden.

How Does The Dude Ranch Work?

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The ranch itself is located off-site and workers and their families travel there after hours. One of the owners of Haberman owned the property and thought it would be a neat project so she donated the land. Haberman & Associates then fronted the money and resources to get the garden going and the employees provided the elbow grease and sweat equity and return get free food from whatever they can grow. While all employees are allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labor, the staff that actually work in the garden get first dibs.

Roughly $5,000USD were invested to purchase supplies and another $5,000 in soft costs were spent on things like research prior to launch. Almost 2/3 of the employees have agreed to go out to the farm at least 3 times during the season and two eleven year-old neighbors are "hired" to help water the garden. "Chores" include picking vegetables, hoeing the pumpkin patch and pulling weeds.

This September, the "farmers" will host a harvest party and can some of the produce to give away as gifts. Excess produce will be donated to local food shelves. Other companies in Minnesota, while not sponsoring entire farms, are hosting CSA dropoff sites to encourage employees to eat more fresh and organic fruits and vegetables. The Haberman employees and owners are encouraging other companies, including large corporations to consider changing their manicured lawns to organic gardens.

To find out more about how the Haberman employees are doing during their time in the field or to get advice on starting your own company garden, check out their blog. For more on the garden and how you can create one at your workspace, check out the Dude Ranch. :Minneapolis Star-Tribune

Thanks tipster Carol.

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