Across the country, there is a burgeoning movement of folks interested in reconnecting to their food and where it comes from. At corporate campuses, employees and culinary teams have been leading the charge, establishing campus farms and gardens of all shapes and sizes. Interested in joining the movement?
Read on to get a sense for what it will take to establish a garden or farm on your corporate campus! Before getting your hands dirty, you’ll first need to think about the following:
Who will be in charge of your garden? Determining the person(s) on your team who will be in charge of organizing your campus farm or garden is incredibly important, as plots of any size will require significant time and effort to plan, establish and maintain. It’s also helpful to have a dedicated point person to communicate with the grounds and facilities department and any interested community members.
How much time and people power can you commit? A small to mid-sized plot can be tended to by volunteers, or alternatively, you and other community stakeholders. If the goal is to create a larger garden that yields enough produce to be featured in a campus café or other venue, additional people will likely need to be involved. Hiring a part-time gardener or consultant for even a couple of hours a week to keep the plants pruned, weeded, and watered can make all the difference. Or maybe an onsite associate is passionate about coordinating the garden efforts and can include it in his or her job description.
Have you reached out yet to the grounds and/or facilities department? These employees are critical partners in campus farming and gardening projects. You’ll need buy-in from this department to select a site for your garden or farm, and they may even be able to keep tabs on the garden or water during weekends when others may not be present.
How will your campus farm or garden fit into the landscape or architectural aesthetics of your corporate campus? Keep in mind factors such as landscape aesthetics and transportation to and from your space. Gardens and farms of all kinds will evolve throughout the seasons, and they may not look lush or neat and tidy all of the time. While a high-profile location on campus will maximize the number of people who see and interact with the garden, having the garden be centrally positioned may also come with constraints from the campus’s owner. It is essential to understand how a garden fits into the corporate campus’s overall look and feel before breaking ground.
What will your farm’s mission be? Want to grow lots of food for the café? Is this a team-building opportunity? Or maybe you’d like to educate the campus community about how food is grown — improving food literacy on your campus? Ultimately you should articulate your farm’s mission before proceeding, and adjust its size based on your goals. While you’ll only be able to grow so much food on a corporate campus, the larger and more efficient your garden is, the larger your harvest will be. If you opt to create a learning garden, where the goal is to educate community members, the garden can be much smaller.
What’s sort of farm or garden would you like to establish? The amount of time, resources, and space available should ultimately determine the sort of garden you install.
For more detailed information about specific gardening methods, see below.