Corporate gardens

We all know the benefits of adding fresh fruits and vegetables to our diets.  But did you know that the physical act of gardening also has several positive health and well-being benefits?  Couple those benefits with gardening in a corporate setting and the benefits double.  One CEO reported that their office garden helped employees maintain work-life balance and offset the “go, go, work, work” ethic allowing employees to get out in the sunshine and build new connections or better standing relationships with co-workers.  Employees who may not have the time, space or resources to garden at home are able to exercise their sometimes, but not always, green thumbs at work.

Joining the ranks of companies like Southwest Airlines, Google and Blue Cross Blue Shield who have corporate gardens, several Community South Credit Union employees installed two raised bed gardens this week to raise vegetables.  UF/IFAS Extension Director, Julie Pigott Dillard, and CSCU CEO, Jan Page, tossed around the idea about a garden a couple of years ago, and with a grant from ScottsMiracle-Gro Florida Grassroots Grants Fund, the idea came to life.  With the direction of UF/IFAS Extension Agent, Matt Orwat, CSCU employees learned how to build raised beds, install compost, weed barriers, fertilizer and irrigation and choose the correct plants for the time of year.  Within six weeks, they’ll be harvesting and taking home fresh okra, a variety of peppers, squash and zucchini.

Alex Richter, who helped bring the CSCU team together, said, “It’ll be a good break from my computer screen every day.”  A recent article from Project Health – Comprehensive Strategies to Promote Healthy Eating cited that gardeners report eating more vegetable compared to non-gardeners, and employees who gardened reported lower levels of stress and appreciated the chance to be active physically while they’re at work.  Employees also reported learning new skills and exercising their minds through gardening.

Orwat shared that the garden he installed along with UF/IFAS Master Gardener volunteers at his own office provided a way for him to get outside, enjoy the sunshine and refresh when he was stumped at work or just tired.

CSCU employees are looking forward to harvesting their garden and are already planning on what they’ll plant for a fall garden.  Because of their small foot print and the ability to control water, fertilizer and soil quality, raised bed gardens are a great way to venture into gardening.

For more information on raised bed gardens, contact UF/IFAS Extension Washington County at 638-6180, and visit on the web at washington.ifas.ufl.edu.

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