C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc. (C&S) and Antioch University New England (AUNE) proudly announce a workplace organic gardens initiative, which includes a formal graduate fellowship at AUNE and a new website launched by the company to serve as a free resource to businesses, according to a press statement. Both of these initiatives help improve how communities provide reliable access to healthy, locally grown food.
“Our intention is to share what we’ve learned from the workplace gardens at our corporate headquarters and to inspire other companies to start gardens of their own,” said Gina Goff, C&S senior director of community involvement. “When we established our gardens a few years ago, there were plenty of resources available about home gardening, farming, and growing food in neighborhood lots, but nothing was specific to the workplace. Our website ( gardens.cswg.com ) offers a rationale around the return on investment, employee engagement, and other tangible benefits.”
The ongoing work of AUNE’s Environmental Studies Department, which includes applying and researching best practices in program planning and communications, community resilience frameworks, and improved community access in food systems, provided a basis for the partnership, which C&S sponsors. The workplace gardens project is spearheaded by Dr. Elizabeth McCann, a professor and director in the department, and endorsed by AUNE President Dr. Stephen B. Jones.
“I am able to connect theory and practice, while creating opportunities to make a real difference in the community,” said Jess Gerrior, the 2015 growing season fellow and AUNE Doctoral student.. “The current food system does not work for everyone when there are people who must choose between what they can afford and what is healthy and sustainable.”
The workplace garden concept and what would become a formal academic initiative began in the fall of 2014 to explore the expansion of the Keene workplace gardens, and to implement garden-based educational outreach at C&S locations in Vermont, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and South Carolina. Each garden includes a community giving component to donate produce to local hunger relief organizations. Over the last two growing seasons, 130 C&S associates at seven garden locations donated more than a half ton of fresh produce to local hunger relief agencies. Collaborations have included NH Cooperative Extension, the NH Master Gardener Program, and Plant-a-Row. The company’s gardens are as large as 65,000 square feet and as small as a couple of small containers.