Thanks to conservation/green/community/health guru Shawna Coronado for this excellent guest blog post about Ball Horticulture’s transition for lawn to employee-run community gardens.
Think about this – across the globe many businesses, churches, synagogues, mosques, and community centers are surround by a sea of an utterly useless plant – grass! What positive effect does acres of grass have for an organization? You cannot feed people on grass. American businesses and organizations use tons of chemicals to maintain the grass, which then cause damage to our water tables nationwide. If we are not mowing grass with carbon producing equipment, we are wasting water on it. This is such a tremendous and inane waste of our resources. It simply makes no sense.
My proposal to you dear reader – follow Ball Horticulture’s example of ditching some of the grass and building a healthy community. Ball Horticulture’s exciting move has been to do something about all that useless grass. They have created one of the first employee-run community gardens in the nation.
There is an unfathomable connection between nature and health. Healthy veggies grown with no chemicals; sunshine which produces good mood endorphins in our brains when we are exposed to it; fresh air which is a welcome escape from the confines of the typical closed environment office. This is just the beginning of what Ball Horticulture hopes to encourage with the creation of the Ball Horticulture Employee Community Garden.
Susan Schmitz, Trials and Education Manager, gave me a tour of the community gardens. Overflowing with every vegetable imaginable, 120 employees have come together to grow their own fresh food in 5’ X 8’ plots. According to Susan, half of those participating had never grown a vegetable before in their lives.
While Ball Horticulture is obviously experienced with plants, they realized that their various employees might not be. Therefore, to assure a higher success rate, Susan and her team came together to host seasonal training workshops. Knowing that veggies can quickly get out of hand in size, Susan felt the first step was having the employees understand what a 5’ X 8’ plot would look like. She taped the plot out on the floor and set out a couple plants on the imaginary plot to demonstrate spacing.
Education soon expanded to planting, weeding, and maintenance concerns, eventually growing into what veggies might be planted late in the season after the spring veggies peaked.
Susan also had a bi-weekly email resource and a company bulletin board established for further assistance with seasonal Ball Hort Veggie Plot Board suggestions and questions which might help the employees have a better chance of succeeding.
Soon employees were growing masses of veggies and feeling very proud of themselves. They weigh each garden’s harvest on a produce scale so they can keep track of just how much locally grown and healthy food was produced. Many individuals choose to give all their veggies to the Giving Gardens Program, which donates the food to local food pantry’s.
While visiting the gardens, I was astounded at how truly beautiful they are. Each plot is labeled with the “owner’s” name, giving the employees a strong sense of ownership, responsibility, and accomplishment. Therefore, they are all wonderfully maintained.
Please make a difference in your community by helping people in this difficult economic time. All you businesses, churches, synagogues, mosques, and community centers do your community a favor – DITCH THE GRASS and BUILD A GARDEN. Make a difference today!
Shawna Lee Coronado is an author, locally syndicated newspaper columnist, health, and greening expert focused on teaching and living a green lifestyle. Shawna has been featured on ABC News (Chicago), WGN 9 News (Chicago), Oklahoma Gardening TV and Local Access 10 TV.
Special written features on Shawna can be found on CNN Health,
Chicago Tribune Local,and The Daily Herald (see Media Coverage).