On Wednesday, June 10th, members of the Green City Growers team visited the Verizon Wireless and National Grid corporate wellness vegetable garden in Waltham. The aim of the visit, along with every corporate wellness visit, was to give employees a chance to get out of the office for an hour and learn a little about growing their own produce.
GCG farmer John Neri walked employees through their garden, showing them the produce that was ready for harvesting. The employees had planted an impressive spread of vegetables in five raised beds of various heights, almost 30 varieties in total! This included vegetables such as sweet potatoes, peppers, kale, collard greens, tomatoes, beets, and summer squash and herbs and edible flowers such as lavender, cilantro, chocolate mint, oregano, and nasturtiums. John and the employees harvested a total of seven pounds of produce, all of which was donated to Food for Free, a food rescue program based in Cambridge that collects fresh produce from the Greater Boston area and distributes it to local food pantries and low income families.
After harvesting, the group worked to weed the beds, making room for new plants and more produce to grow. Some more vegetables were planted in place of the harvested produce to keep the garden flourishing all summer long. And how does GCG get so many new vegetables to grow? With fish emulsion! This product is made into a liquid fertilizer from the remains of, well, fish. While it doesn’t smell great, it makes the vegetable gardens grow healthy and lush. After fertilizing, the group made sure to re-secure the pest fencing around the beds to keep out any unwanted critters. Pest prevention is key to growing a healthy garden all summer long.
Over the course of the hour, Verizon and National Grid employees filtered in and out of the garden. They enjoyed the sunshine and weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. One employee, Cathy DeNorscia, said, “I eat at my desk everyday, I never get out and about, so it’s good to get out here and just relax for a few minutes.” Farmer John also enjoyed his time working with the employees. “My favorite part about working with the corporate clients is how excited they get to come outside…in the middle of their work day. For them to…be really excited about participating…is really a great thing and they usually end up donating a good amount of produce to charity, so that’s great.” All in all, it was a successful day in Waltham, and the GCG team looks forward to going back in a couple weeks.
I’m interested in learning more about the GCG connection with the National Grid garden. Do you have information about this program?
How the program was started?
How long it’s been in existence?
What has worked well?
What changes have been made?
Hi Audrey! The program was started by Davis Marcus Management, for the tenants at Reservoir Woods: National Grid and Verizon. The management company hired Green City Growers to install and maintain the garden and provide weekly garden education. The garden was installed in spring 2014, and has been successful since inception. Some of the managers use the garden program for team building. Everyone uses it as an opportunity to get outside, be in nature, de-stress, learn how to grow food from professional farmers, and feel good about growing food for donation to Food For Free. Cold frames were added in fall 2014 to extend the growing season.