A peek into our company garden!
Every year at the My Own Labels headquarters in Portland, Oregon, we have a collaborative company garden. All MOL employees are invited to participate. The garden area is located behind our office building and is divided up into small garden plots which are then assigned to our MOL gardeners. Each person gets a half hour of gardening time during work hours every week, as we have a strict “no weeds!” policy. This year will mark three years of having the garden and four employees are participating: Jeanne (company owner), Sally (purchasing director), Ritch (web programmer) and Julie (customer service).
“It’s who I am. My garden at home is filled with vegetables, fruit trees and shrubs that produce fruit like blueberries, gooseberries, currants, etc. I absolutely love farming, and if things had been slightly different in my life, I would be a farmer or rancher today. I love to sit in my garden among my plants and watch them grow. So when we got this building for My Own Labels, and the dust settled on the remodeling and moving in, I began to look at the land around the building. First, we converted a part of the back parking lot into a tree-shaded patio for staff lunches. We installed an arbor and planted grapes for shade in the summer, and for fruit. Then I turned the area between the buildings into a quiet garden, with a stone path and Corsican mint, sedum, and climbing hydrangea (it will eventually cover this arbor).”
“But edible plants, to me, are where the real fun is. We had the available land and I knew I wanted to use it for a vegetable garden. Instead of making it my own personal space, I invited our MOL staff members to help create a community garden. I believe gardening is so much more fun when shared with others, so in the spring of 2009 we began our staff gardens. The plan grew slowly, incorporating procedures as we encountered a need. For example, we have a rule that you MUST remove weeds from your plot. Our gardens are too close to each other; weeds in one garden will inevitably become weeds in all gardens. Also, we weigh all our produce. This is to monitor the success of the gardens, and it works as inspiration for all of us to see how we are doing.”
Last year the MOL garden harvested 200 pounds of produce. This year Jeanne is hoping to get 250-300 pounds. You may remember Sally’s salsa garden she planted last year. It was a success despite our lack of sun during the summer. Both Sally and Jeanne will be planting salsa gardens again this year and they plan to share their harvests- Jeanne will share her tomatillos and Sally will share her cilantro. When I asked Jeanne what she’s most excited about growing, she said, “Tomatillo plants! So that in the fall I can harvest them for my son and daughter-in-law (to-be) with tomatillos for their famous homemade salsa. Also this year, I am growing elephant garlic and they look great so far!”
Stay tuned! Next month I’ll be posting an update on how things are growing. I’ll also be featuring some more interviews with Sally, Ritch and Julie. They’ll share with us what they’re growing, what they’ve learned, and what they’re most excited about harvesting this fall!