This month, Moore & Giles’ wellness coordinator, Katie Stevens, announced an exciting plan to break ground on a community garden at our headquarters in Virginia. Moore & Giles’ wellness program is a company wide initiative that promotes a healthy lifestyle for its staff. In an effort to have happy and healthy employees, the program includes; an onsite gym and fitness center, access to a personal fitness instructor, incentives that offer individual and team rewards that promote a spirit of community competitiveness and access to an onsite nurse.
We recently caught up with Katie Stevens to discuss this new addition to the wellness program at Moore & Giles:
What inspired you to start the garden?
I felt like the fitness portion of our wellness program was very well rounded, but I have always been stumped with how to incorporate more to do with healthy eating. I had put up recipes, brought in food, done meal plans for people…but there was never a real hands on aspect of nutrition like there was with the fitness. Tray Petty and I were talking over the winter (he loves to garden) and we started brainstorming what a “community garden” might look like here. My brother-in-law lives in a small apartment in the northeast and participates in one and LOVES it…so I asked him lots of questions, started looking into how various community gardens work, sizes, etc.. It just kind of grew from that initial conversation with Tray.
How does the garden complement Moore & Giles’ wellness program?
I love the hands on aspect of the garden. Having your hands in the soil and growing your own tomatoes to take home and prepare is much more concrete than posting a recipe and encouraging folks to try it at home. My plan, when it’s time to harvest these fruits and vegetables, is to have “lunch and learns” or small-group sessions with people who don’t normally cook with these foods to learn how. If you have never chopped a zucchini, it might be helpful to watch someone do it and explain some options for how to prepare it.
What will be grown in the garden?
Right now, we are growing a variety of tomatoes and cherry tomatoes, squash and zucchini, cucumbers, varieties of peppers, eggplant, beets, broccoli, peas, watermelon, cantaloupe and an herb garden.
Who will be maintaining the garden?
Our employees will be maintaining the garden. The garden committee will put together a rotating schedule. It will be all volunteers working on breaks, lunch hours and before or after work. One of the greatest things about our fitness program has been people from all over company working out together. When you don’t normally work with someone, but you see them in a fitness class, you sweat, you laugh and work towards a common goal together. It has really helped form a greater sense of community here. I am hoping for the same with with garden.
Do you have any future plans to expand the garden?
We have ideas all over the place! We started with this size, but are totally willing to expand as long as it is maintained and successful. There were a lot of thoughts to eventually donate food to local food banks if we get to that size. There are all kinds of ideas about other things being grown. I even had a bee keeper call and ask if we were willing to have bees on site! The sky is the limit with this project!