Grit Blogs > Waking up in Kansas

Look at Our Office Community Garden!

By K.C. Compton


Tags: community garden, office projects, office garden project, edible landscape, edible landscaping,

KC ComptonOn March 31, two employees who had been campaigning for a community garden for our office got the OK from our publisher and our garden was born. Initially about 30 people signed on to help create the garden, but as with all worthy projects, the number who've actually spent significant energy on the project is much smaller. The really cool thing about it, though, is that people helped out when they could help out, and somehow it all got done.

Ogden_GardenThis is some of what the garden committee (of which I have been a nominal member – meaning, I watered once, weeded once and have done a lot of cheerleading) planted:

Giant Sunflowers
Kentucky Wonder beans
Dill
Cosmos (lovely chocolate-brown ones)
Popcorn
Country Gentleman Sweet Corn 
Yellow  Onion
Pole beans 'Greasy Grits'
Bush BeanBean 'Blue Lake'
Basil – 'Herb Fine Verde' (Which I hadn't heard of before)

herbs in  vasePlus a variety of lettuces, herbs – and flowers, to give the garden curb appeal. The curb appeal thing is definitely working. I frequently see people slow down and give the garden a good once-over. I figure at some point we'll lose a few vegetables to passersby, though this isn't much of a pedestrian area. But even if we do, the project has been fabulous and the result is simply wonderful. I think now that we've had an experimental first year, we'll regroup and do some perennials, too.

One of the best parts is that we now will have fresh herbs and flowers – free for the picking – for our vases here in the office for the rest of the season. (See example from my very own desk over to the left there.)

And I absolutely love that in just a few weeks we've transformed this somewhat sterile, boring patch of lawn into this lovely, juicy, lively and fertile little plot of Creation. Priceless.

k.c. compton
7/4/2010 8:42:12 PM

Yes, Amy, it's been fun watching Ilene ease herself into gardening a little bit at a time. I know she's got the bug now--I can't wait to see what she plants for herself next year. Luckily, our office is full of "gardening consultants," so if she has any questions, Cheryl or Hank or any of a dozen other people are around to help. Robyn, how neat that you're helping and learning from your older friend. I love when simple wisdom gets passed around! :=]


amy crawford
7/2/2010 1:02:51 PM

What a neat idea and project for your company! My mom (Ilene) has spoken of the garden on numerous occassions and I think it has inspired her to garden on a smaller scale, which is a step in the right direction. Yea for all of you!!!


robyn dolan
7/2/2010 7:25:29 AM

WOW! This is great. I hope we start seeing more community gardens. We've tried to have a community garden here, but no participation. I do get to help my elderly friend in town with his garden, which grows much better than mine;( I'm trying to learn from that...


k.c. compton
6/26/2010 1:09:25 PM

Yes, yes! Cannas! We have cannas and also tomatoes. Sorry--I was in a hurry to post before I left the office and left out a few things. No doubt other staff will fill in the blanks. I can't wait until the popcorn is ready to harvest. I've never had really fresh popcorn before (although I think it has to dry first, right?). And yes, those are cleome. I hadn't grown them before and was amazed at how quickly they've become lovely flowers. We wanted to have a sort of visual treat across the front to make it prettier from the street and not advertise quite so loudly that there are fresh veggies there for the picking. We have some tiny eggplant that Cheryl Long over at Mother Earth News tells us are now ready for the picking. I thought they needed to get much bigger, but they're wee little things that grew very quickly. We have some cukes and squash, I think, but I haven't seen anything on those yet. I love having the flowers mixed in with the veggies and have always done that, for the pollinators and butterflies and also just for pretty. We have marigolds all around the perimeter and I understand they're good for discouraging pests. And just to be clear, this was a joint project for all departments in our company, so that includes Mother Earth News, The Herb Companion, Grit, etc., and also people from our art department, P.R., marketing, ad sales. It truly has been a company-wide effort, and the bonus points have been that we've gotten better acquainted. All in all, a big win!


chuck mallory
6/26/2010 8:36:36 AM

What a great idea. If you have a kitchen at the office, you can truly have a "free lunch"--fresh salads right at the office. One question, though: no tomatoes?


s.m.r. saia
6/26/2010 6:22:56 AM

That is really nice! It's so satisfying to be able to step outside and pick one's own flowers. Enjoy your veggies!


cindy murphy
6/26/2010 5:15:32 AM

Looks great, KC! You're right - lawn is boring; gardens are much more exciting. Are those big, beautiful canna leaves I see in the photo to the right? Oh, sheesh - my cannas at home and in the children's garden at work are barely a foot high right now - the ones that came up, anyway. Too much rain, and I think a lot of the tubers rotted in the ground. And cleome is in there too? The great thing about cleome is you plant it once and have it for years to come as it self-sows. I think it's cool you all mixed flowers in with the vegetables. Many vegetable gardeners think flowers are a waste of good gardening space; "if you can't eat it, it's not worth growing." Flowers though, play an important role - they bring in the pollenators. While the Grit staff is enjoying those beans and corn, the bees and butterflies will enjoy feasting on nectars. Oh, and hummingbirds too - if those are cannas. Hummingbirds LOVE cannas. Your community garden is a benefit to all.


nebraska dave
6/25/2010 10:32:14 PM

@K.C., I’ve been wondering how the community garden has been doing. It looks great for the first year of digging up grass. Next year I know will be even better. There will be a next year right? I think it’s great that you have decided to have a community garden to show to the Grit readers. I’m of the opinion that it doesn’t matter if a few veggies are missing as for me I’ll probably give most of what I’ve grown away. That’s just me of course. Last year I tried to give so much away the neighbors would cringe when they saw me coming so I had to can the rest. I still got some tomatoes left before the new ones come in. Have wonderful summer of community gardening.


sweetmissdaisy
6/25/2010 8:15:35 PM

I just love this, and KUDOS to your group/company for making a move in this direction. I think it would be wonderful if MORE companies did this! Instead of rolling lawns between office buildings, it would be so wonderful to see the land producing something sustainable for the people. Great job!!