Employee Gardens: Win-Win

This editorial ran in The Oklahoman on July 3rd.

The support of our corporate sponsors in Oklahoma is great, and because of that support we are able to continue our mission of “Fighting Hunger…Feeding Hope.”

One of our most ardent supporters, Chesapeake Energy, has found yet another way to help nonprofits such as ours, while engaging their employees and impacting the community.  The Chesapeake Employee Garden is an idea we hope will be adopted and replicated by companies of all sizes throughout the state.

Simply put, it’s a garden established by Chesapeake and grown, harvested and enjoyed by members of Chesapeake’s Green Thumb Club. All excess produce will be distributed to organizations such as the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma.

Specifically, Chesapeake has set up a “sustainable” garden on a full city block between Shartel and Lee Avenues and NW 62nd and 61st streets, featuring raised bed plots reserved for planting and harvesting a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers.

The Green Thumb Club has 56 teams of Chesapeake employees who work individual plots and five common beds for shared crops of cane berries, strawberries, asparagus, cut flowers and herbs.

Throughout the garden, a “sustainable approach,” is employed, encouraging focus on the health and vitality of the soil while providing plants with the optimum condition for growth, and increasing resistance to pests and diseases. All participants have attended a ‘Basics of Sustainable Gardening’ course.

Chesapeake’s Green Thumb Club is comprised of all skill levels of gardeners and allows employees and their families to hone their gardening techniques in a fun and enjoyable community setting. Garden participants will be provided educational classes, resources and guidance throughout the seasons.

We encourage organizations of all sizes to follow Chesapeake’s lead and institute their own employee garden. You don’t need an entire city block or hundreds of employees to have a productive and beautiful garden.  The benefits for your company and employees include: improving the quality of life for garden participants; stimulating social interaction; encouraging self-reliance; producing nutritious food for employee families and for local nonprofit organizations; reducing family food costs; conserving resources; creating opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy and education; promoting green initiatives and adding a unique and visually appealing aspect to your company setting.

The employee garden is a win for your company, a win for your employees and a win for the community. As we salute Chesapeake Energy for establishing an employee garden, we look forward to doing the same with others as employee gardens spring up throughout the state.

For more information on starting a community garden in the workplace, visit our Urban Harvest page or contact Bruce Edwards at bedwards@regionalfoodbank.org or 405-604-7108.

Rodney Bivens

Rodney Bivens

Rodney Bivens is the Executive Director of the Regional Food Bank. He founded the organization in 1980.
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On June 29, Chesapeake Energy employees gathered to celebrate the dedication of the Chesapeake Employee Garden. In addition to a special presentation from CEO Aubrey McClendon and a Native American blessing by Chief Gordon Yellowman, employees sipped on organic micro-brew and listened to the bluegrass melodies of Buffalo Fitz.

From pepper plants to marigolds, the garden offers a multitude of vegetation while providing the opportunity to be more personally sustainable in a fun, collaborative space, as well as showing employees and their families and friends how to grow a successful garden and prepare meals with the produce.

All gardening levels are welcome – from beginners to avid gardeners. Participants make up what is referred to as the Green Thumb Club and employees and their family members can hone their gardening techniques in a community setting. Through the process, garden participants are with provided educational classes, resources and professional guidance.

Gardening doesn’t serve just as an alternate way to fill one’s refrigerator. Gardening stimulates social interaction, reduces food costs, conserves resources, encourages self-reliance, and creates opportunities for recreation, exercise, therapy, and education – conveniently located near Chesapeake’s main campus.

The Chesapeake Employee Garden is located between Shartel and Lee avenues and NW 62nd and 61st streets and is comprised of raised bed plots reserved for planting and harvesting a wide range of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. Two garden quadrants share a central common area including a rinsing and cleaning area and an outdoor table and seating area for gardeners to socialize, share tips and take a break from the summer heat.

Any excess produce will be donated to Food Bank and partner agencies like BritVil Community Food Pantry.

For more information, e-mail employeegarden@chk.com. See more photos of the garden on Flickr!

Natalie Wright

Natalie Wright

Natalie Wright is the Marketing Coordinator at the Regional Food Bank. Natalie manages social media for the organization. Connect with her on Twitter (@rfbo) and Facebook!
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