I would like to begin the article by saying I am not a writer or storyteller, so consider this while reading and please don’t attempt to provide constructive feedback, because if I haven’t learned it by now…
Anyway, I wanted to share with you how our Health & Wellness team was able to establish a workplace communal garden. As a leader for our wellness team, I am always looking for new ways to engage our workforce in healthier living. Our Frito-Lay wellness team understands that within our scope of activities, that not everyone will like everything. So, it’s important that we strive to deliver new and different activities. For example, some people are very exercise focused while others are more diet oriented. So this is what I was thinking about this past January as I was looking ahead to our yearly agenda. Then it struck me that gardening covers most of our healthy objectives. It provides exercise and healthy food for the body and it can be very relaxing for the mind. It was an epiphany!
Because this was somewhat of a far-fetched idea, I mulled it over for a few weeks. Then I approached my site leadership team and pitched the idea. To their credit, they said if I could show there was interest in having an on-site garden, that they’d support it. As they say, the rest is history.
We posted a Garden notification and sign-up sheet during our wellness fair and were able to sign-up about 25-30 employees. This satisfied our site leader and our corporate sponsors. So at this point, it became a team project that required some advanced planning. If you are considering a site garden, I suggest you first determine the garden’s overall purpose. We have employees interested in growing food for themselves, others who prefer need-based donations and others who only wish to garden for fun. Since our objective was employee health, we opted to make the garden about providing food for our employees; directly to those who garden and surplus offered to everyone else. Futuristically, we might consider also having an outreach garden too, but that’s yet to be decided.
It’s now early August, and I am happy to report that our garden is now producing considerable amounts of produce. It is somewhat funny to think that as I walk to my car each evening, I often sidetrack to the garden to grab a few tomatoes or a cucumber. Our garden team has done a great job maintaining the garden area. I really couldn’t foresee exactly how this was all going to work, for example, our largest group of gardeners is night shift employees. These individuals visit the garden in the morning before leaving work. It’s also a social activity for some groups of gardeners as well. Overall it’s been a great experience and I’d recommend it to anyone considering new wellness activities.
Frito-Lay Health & Wellness Team
Frankfort Garden Project Overview –
- Determine Garden Feasibility
- Present your Garden idea to your Site Leadership Team to get input and identify any concerns
- Determine if you have enough people interested in gardening to make it a worthwhile project. We posted a Garden Sign-up sheet during our Wellness Fair.
- Get the necessary support from any department or function that will be impacted by the Garden; Food Safety and Sanitation manager, Site Security Manager, Planning Manager – (Outside services, mowing, etc.)
- Ensure you have an adequate real estate and resources for your garden. What format works for your site? Raised beds, Containers, vertical garden etc.
- Set guidelines around gardening products, we opted for Organic garden because of the obstacles around having the proper MSDS sheets for herbicides and pesticides.
- Once you have resolved the obstacles and gotten approval, meet with the Garden team
- Design the garden with your team
- Determine layout of the garden, some folks will want their own area; others will team-up to share an area.
- Outline what can or cannot be grown, example watermelon and other vine plants are probably questionable due to space constraints.
- Create your budget; determine materials; compost, mulch, plants, containers or materials, tools, water hose, etc.
- Preparation & Installation
- Submit your preapproval budget request outlining your expenses.
- Upon approval, create a timeline for getting the materials purchased, fabricating and staging materials and then set a garden planting date.
- Outline duties and get volunteers for watering, etc.
- Ongoing Maintenance
- Develop a team communication process, an email distribution list works well if you team is spread-out across various work shifts. You’ll want to send messages to recognize the team and provide feedback if something needs addressed.
- Identify owners if you need someone to own the overarching tasks such as watering, trimming etc. Otherwise each gardener is responsible for their own garden plot.
- Have an end of season game plan for closing out the garden, clear garden debris and make area presentable.