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Expanding Your Growing Space – Gardening at Work

by Fern on June 1, 2010

in Fruits & Vegetables,How To,Popular

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If you want to put a substantial dent in your grocery bill, you are most likely going to have to grow edible plants in more places than just your balcony. One option is community gardening, but not everyone has that opportunity. Another is to convince your employer to let you garden on a portion of their property. Heck, if Pepsi employees can weed their vegetable plots during their lunchbreak, why can’t you? Here are some tips and things to think about…

Many businesses have large grass belts surrounding their offices that could easily be turned in to vegetable plots, or they have a patio where containers could be added. Here are some photos of my own container garden at my office. I tucked in four tomato plants, four pepper plants, two lavender plants, a potato plant, and some onions in a tiny piece of concrete on one side of the building, and a little strip of unused patio near the front door. We also recently created a tiny garden bed in the middle of our grass and planted an orange tree there.

There’s four tomato plants there!

Our little orange tree still needs a little pruning to reshape it after some limbs were broken.

A potato plant growing in a Smart Pot.

Try saying “I picked a peck of purple peppers at work” five times fast!

Your Employer’s Possible Concerns

My mom is an office manager, so I thought she would be the perfect person to talk to for an employer’s perspective. She thought a lot of small and medium sized companies would be willing to consider a company garden as a way to keep their employees happy and committed to their jobs. It might have the added benefit of getting employees to work earlier, and keeping them close to the office during lunch. Both could have the benefit–from the employer’s perspective–of reducing tardiness.

However, my mom did point out a few concerns employer’s might have, and it would be good to think about how you can alleviate them before talking your boss:

  • “Excessive water usage causing a rise in utility bills”
    You might point out that the lawn you’d be replacing with your vegetable garden used a lot of water, the water usage could be a wash. If you’ll just be adding a few containers, you can offer to bring jugs of water from home to water your plants.
  • “A vegetable garden will look unkempt”
    Bring photos of beautiful vegetable gardens, and promise to maintain your plot.
  • “Employees will spend work time doing gardening things”
    Agree to keep garden time and work time strictly separate, and stick to your word.
  • “A vegetable garden might attract ants”
    Read up on integrated pest management, and explain to your boss your pest control strategy.

Another thing that might help assuage your boss’s fears is to come up with a written agreement that lays out the rules you and your boss come up with. Agree that employees who don’t follow the agreement will lose their right to garden at work.

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