Dig In: How to Start a Community Garden at Your Workplace
If you’ve ever wanted to start a workplace garden, well, we have some sage advice. We believe in promoting employee wellness and investing in our community by giving back to nature more than we take. We like to call this #handprintsoverfootprints – and on Earth Day we left literal handprints in the soil at our Light Lab Design Center when we opened a community garden for our employees.
How to Start a Community Garden at Your Workplace
Why did we start an employee community garden? As the world’s largest flooring manufacturer, we feel a profound sense of responsibility to advance our shared mission of a more sustainable future. It’s why we’re challenging ourselves to design and manufacture innovative products with reduced environmental and social impacts. And it’s why we believe in investing in the communities where we live, work and play.
“The philosophy of sustainability informs everything we do and is embedded deeply in our culture,” – Jeff Lorberbaum, Mohawk’s chairman and CEO.
So naturally, we loved the idea of creating an outdoor space that, quite literally, sustains. Plus, we dig the potential benefits for our employees. Like how community gardens bring people together and contribute to well-being.
In this Fortune article, doctor and corporate wellness expert Michael Finkelstein calls employee gardens, “the most exciting of the new generation of corporate wellness programs,” citing benefits such as their ability to engage workers simultaneously on physical, mental and community levels.
Tips for Planting an Employee Workplace Garden
Here are a few things we’ve learned to help you get started implementing an employee garden at your workplace:
Involve your local community
When it comes to sustainability, we enjoy partnering with local farmers as well as school organizations – such as local chapters of the Young Farmers Association and Future Farmers of America. They generously helped us plot out the community garden space and established the initial planting calendar for our beds, including which product to plant based on season, climate, organic material purchases, and maximum yield.
Prep the site
Your local farming organization can also guide you through setting up your community garden space. We chose an area that has a considerable amount of daily sunlight, tested the soil and made sure a water source was available. Then, our engineering services team helped us prepare and develop the gardening site with an eye towards sustainability. They built the garden beds out of reclaimed wooden pallets and provided soil enriched with leaves and other compost material that was taken up from facility grounds.
Generate excitement with engaging activities
Sustainability is truly an integral part of our workplace culture, so as a whole, our employees were incredibly enthusiastic about the idea of establishing an employee garden. Another way that we collaborated with our local farm partner at Payne’s Farmers Market was to have them hold gardening classes for our employees.
Thanks to them, we know how much water our raised beds need and the right way to trim a head of lettuce for a quick mid-day snack. They also walked us through the hands-on planting of the beds, which was a fun team-building activity for our employees.
Provide the right tools
Providing employees with easy access to gardening tools such as gloves, spades, plant markers and scissors makes it simple for employees to quickly snip a sprig of fresh parsley to garnish their lunch. And because we’re all about repurposing, we reuse our carpet tiles by turning them into gardening mats for employees to kneel on while they work in the community garden.
Celebrate sweet success
It was only fitting to celebrate the opening of our community garden on Earth Day, where employees and our local partners gathered to attend a ribbon cutting ceremony – and of course, help themselves to a freshly picked snack.
Want to take your outdoors adventures a step further and pollinate all of your newly planted plants? Take a page out of our book and raise honeybees onsite like we do at our Glasgow, Virginia plant with the help of our resident beekeeper.
Now romaine calm and go plant a garden!
See how Mohawk is broadening the definition of corporate social responsibility to both “believe in better” and “believe in beautiful” in our latest sustainability report – which illustrates how a growing commitment to sustainability is shaping business decisions that positively impact the company, its customers, employees and communities.