The office farmer: Grow your lunch at work

The office farmer: Grow your lunch at work

20 Jun 2017
/ Lexi Quint

As the late afternoon sunshine glare bounces off your computer screen, imagine you’ve traded in your keyboard for a trowel and your monitor for topsoil.

Maybe you can. Some innovative companies have discovered the calming benefits of letting their employees to tend the fields while on the clock. Gardening encourages team building, helps them de-stress, and even helps them engage in some light physical activity.

Interested in starting a community garden at work?

Try these tips from some of the world's most innovative companies (Google, Southwest, Chesapeake Energy) to name a few and get your green thumb going!

  • Existing Green Spaces

    Initiatives like this can start small. At the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, three employees started a small garden on their own. It grew rapidly and eventually led to over twenty corporate gardens throughout the Twin Cities.

    Corporate gardens are great for local communities. At Timberland’s New Hampshire headquarters, the Victory Garden is now in its tenth growing season. The 1000 square-foot garden even helps supply the New Hampshire Food Bank.

    While the most popular corporate gardening tactic is to repurpose existing green space, we encourage creativity. If you’re interested in starting one of your own, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota created a helpful resource guide based on their experiences. Check it out here.

  • Rooftop Gardens

    One Carter Lane in London and Cookfox’s office in New York City (both WELL Certified at the Gold level) have incorporated community garden plots on their rooftops. These projects are more than just community gardens: they even raise bees and collect honey from the apiaries.

    If your office has limited access to green space, the rooftop might be your best bet. It will require some additional due diligence before you get going, however. You must determine the amount of daylight your roof receives and conduct a structural review to ensure that the added weight can be supported. Check out this guide for more details.

  • Indoor Farming

    Some companies have also experimented with modern-day farming technologies to set up shop indoors.

    Microsoft is exploring indoor farming options in Seattle. The dining staff grows many of the greens used in their cafeteria on-site in an experimental indoor hydroponic farm.

    The Pasona Group, a temporary staffing and recruitment agency in Tokyo, has turned their office into a complete indoor farm, growing over 200 varieties of fruits, vegetables, and rice throughout the building's lobbies, conference rooms, rooftops, and even in an underground farm. Employees maintain and harvest the food, which is then used in the onsite cafeteria.

    If setting up a company community garden seems daunting, a great way to engage interest among your employees is to schedule a visit to a local farm.

Located in New York City?

GrowNYC, the organization who manages the farmers markets in NYC, hosts a volunteer program for companies to work on urban farms throughout the city.

Companies pursuing WELL Certification can achieve an Optimization feature for having a gardening plot onsite.