PSFK pointed me to a great article in the NYtimes from last month entitled “The Rise of Company Gardens.” At corporate office parks around the globe, companies are turning lawns over to carrots and cucumbers, all in the name of encouraging employee health and happiness, and perhaps earning some green street cred along the way. Best Buy, Google, Kohl’s, Pepsico, and many lesser known brands are among the companies experimenting with the practice.
The trend comes along with a general rise in awareness about the benefits of fresh vegetables, an interest in organics, and the “back to the earth” aesthetic that gardening theoretically brings. Employees can literally pick a salad for lunch at some facilities, and at others, according to the Times, fresh greens are passed around at board meetings. Audubon magazine suggests that the trend could even improve mental health among employees while they encourage each other to watch and tend crops at break time. I suppose it beats “trust falls” at the ropes course.
It’s ironic that a company like PepsiCo, which sells mostly processed junk food, would so enthusiastically jump on the bandwagon. But can we fault them for trying? Is there a chance that the presence of corporate gardening could seep deeper into the consciousness of the organization and into the edibles it produces?
Who knows exactly how seriously anyone at the top level takes this beyond symbolism and human resources. Still, companies have to be applauded for putting some thought outside the box. It’s likely that some employees will take the garden idea home to their own backyards, and be ever slightly more conscious about what they eat and where their food comes from. It would be hard to ignore that influence later on when workplace decisions on ingredients and sourcing are underway.