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Can Corporate Gardening Improve Your Employees' Health & Well-Being?

Posted, by Deborah Merkin
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While corporate gardens are best known for producing healthy fruits and vegetables, they're also developing a reputation as an effective employee health and well-being tool.

The Corporate Garden Coach website claims gardening is "an inexpensive corporate wellness solution, an enjoyable employee perk that boosts morale, while also helping employees (and their families) become healthier."

Studies have revealed that gardening lowers stress levels, promotes relaxation, and bolsters self-esteem. If you're company has a large contingent of Baby Boomers, AARP highlights several ways gardening can be beneficial to this employee group as they near retirement age. The organization says gardening helps:

  • Combat loneliness 
  • Improve mood
  • Increase physical activity
  • Reduce risk of dementia 
  • Strengthen bones and immune system through vitamin D exposure

Put Gardening Into Practice 

Developing a sustainable corporate gardening program can be challenging, but for those employers that have invested in this type of health and wellness initiative, it's worked out well.

StartOrganic, for example, introduced its Corporate Organic Vegetable Gardening Program across California's Silicon Valley and it's paying dividends, according to PR Web. The company has worked with several notable employers including eBay, Evernote, LinkedIn, PayPal and Symantec.

The corporate gardening program has been credited with decreasing employee stress and increasing their health and productiveness in the workplace. 

By using StartOrganic's gardening program, PayPal has seen rapid growth since getting involved five years ago. The program, which is expected to expand for the fourth time, has nearly 40 beds and several dozen employees tending to it weekly.

Josh Levine, co-founder of StartOrganic, told PR Web:

“Scientific studies from the Netherlands, Canada and Japan showed similar results concluding that every 10 percent increase in exposure to green space, such as gardens, translated into an improvement in health equivalent to being five years younger. It’s amazing the number of scientific studies and research supporting the mental and physical health benefits of getting your hands in the dirt and growing your own food - I honestly see and hear stories of mental health improvement first hand, every week.”

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Plant the Seeds of Success

Meanwhile, dozens of employees at Netscout Systems in Westford, Mass. have embraced the company's new garden, according to a Boston Globe report. The produce grown is oftentimes given to employees' families, donated locally to food banks and other nonprofit organizations, and even incorporated into the company's salad bar.

Down the road in Massachusetts, Boston Medical Center (BMC) has established a 7,000-square-foot rooftop farm with a garden that likely will generate 15,000 pounds of food during the growing season, David Maffeo, BMC’s senior director of support services, told the Globe. The food typically stocks the food pantry at BMC, and it also helps feed patients, he added.

Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is another Massachusetts company that has built corporate gardens in Hingham and Quincy, director of sustainability Kyle Cahill told the Globe. The 3,500-square-foot gardens are maintained by nearly 200 employees, according to the report. 

To measure the program's effectiveness, BCBS issues surveys to its workers, and about 85 percent have said they're in a better mood after spending time at the garden, the Globe reports. 

With companies looking at wellness programs from a holistic perspective, you can include a gift card reward component that recognizes employees for their participation in a corporate gardening program.

Introducing a work garden, however small it might be, is an important first step toward making your employee wellness program a success. 

Having your employees participate in corporate gardening is a proven way to spark engagement, encourage physical activity in the workplace, while also helping them to improve their overall health and well-being. 

Want to add a gift card reward to your wellness program? Contact us for a free consultation today.

Topics: Workplace Health & Wellness, Corporate Gifts

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