The “eat local” trend sprung up in the early 2000s; chances are you’ve seen tote bags promoting “Buy Local,” at the grocery store checkout. Across the globe, more and more people are thinking about the importance of eating local. The emergence of the “locavore” diet, a term coined in 2005 was founded behind the idea of eating only food that grows within a 100 mile radius. The rationale behind eating local is rooted in the environmental benefits of less “food miles” involved in processing and transportation of food, as well as the positive impacts of supporting community agriculture and small businesses.
Being a company deeply committed to community growth as seen in our Small Grants Program, it was natural for CST to start a communal employee garden at our global headquarters in Danvers, MA.
“My favorite part of the garden has to be picking fresh produce during sunny lunch breaks in September” - Julie Kenyon, Finance.
Our community garden began as an employee-driven initiative from the Green Committee in 2012. In the early years our garden was limited to two raised beds of various greens and tomatoes, but it has slowly expanded over the years. By 2015, Zach Bruce and Elias Witman, along with the help of some CST summer interns, built additional 4’ x 16’ raised beds bringing our total garden area to 384 square feet.
The garden program has been a great place for new gardeners to learn tips from staff who have personal knowledge and experience from maintaining gardens at home or at family farms. The organization of the gardens has evolved over the years. Our first gardens provided food for the company cafeteria. In 2015, we experimented with personal plots, and in 2016 we opted for shared communal harvests.
“The biggest improvement of the garden this year is the increase in employee participation. It’s fun to see everyone outside with their hands dirty combatting weeds and going after hard to reach tomatoes.” Zach Bruce, Flow Cytometry and Garden Director.
Work in our 2016 garden began in May when we built trellises for sugar snap peas, which were used by green beans later in the season. The sugar snap peas were delicious and a big hit with CST moms. We heard frequent claims of, “this is the only veggie my kids will eat!” Broccoli, cauliflower, Swiss chard, and lettuce were also planted early. A wide variety of peppers, as well as several cucumbers and eggplants were planted in late June. Surprisingly, we had a few “volunteer” tomato plants from last year that sprung up across a few of the raised beds. We dedicated an entire garden plot to tomatoes, which by September were approaching peak ripeness.
Not only does the community garden provide healthy organic produce for our employees, it’s also a fun activity for employee engagement. Many stories and smiles will be shared each year as the summer heat gives way to the cool breeze of New England Autumn.
Do you have space for a small garden at your workplace or home? Just a basil or rosemary plant in your windowsill can bring great satisfaction. For there’s nothing better than preparing a meal and stopping for a moment to reflect to say, “Hey, I grew this”.
CST funds a wide range of community gardens and environmental education and action programs in local communities and schools. Click the button below to download our 2015 Corporate Social Responsibility Report.