Introducing: Our Made + Remade staff garden! I’ve been dreaming of an office garden for a while now, and I’m so excited it’s finally planted and growing. Vegetable gardening is a stress reliever for me, so it feels nice to have that opportunity here at work, and it’s even better to share it with my coworkers. We have two large DIY elevated planters filled with tomatoes, eggplant, basil and peppers on our patio. Yum. I can’t wait for our first pesto tasting! We’ll be sharing updates on the garden’s progress here on the blog (and on Instagram via #maderemade), so you can follow along. But I hope our garden also encourages you to start your own wherever you live and work. Here are a few tips for starting your own workplace garden.
1. Get buy-in from management. In our case, I really had to sweet-talk the facilities department who takes great care of our pristine building. I promised to keep things looking neat and clean, and the elevated planter design that Dan came up with passed approval because it won’t damage the patio. (An elevated planter is also nice because you can work in the garden while standing, especially nice when you’re wearing business casual.) Remember to mention any way that a garden could benefit your workplace. For example, if you work in medicine, it’ll show a commitment to health to your customers and/or clients. If you’re at a large company, Human Resources may be a good place to start. HR departments are often tasked with wellness initiatives for companies, so talk with those folks about how the garden contributes to overall wellness at work.
The most likely push-back will be about how the garden will look. A lot of people think “messy” when you say “vegetable garden,” but it doesn’t have to be that way. If your colleagues need extra convincing, show some inspirational pictures of beautiful vegetable gardens.
2. Set a budget. Hopefully, you’ll do such a great job of convincing your boss and other folks about the garden that you’ll get a little cash for the project. I had the benefit of access to the beautiful plants available through the HGTV HOME Plant Collection, but I realize not everyone is this lucky. Still, you may be able to get some plants donated from a local garden center in exchange for exposure to your company and anyone who visits or follows your company. For example, if you’re in retail and have a visible storefront, you could plant in front, where folks will see, and include a little handmade sign saying where you got the plants. That’s what we call green advertising, folks.
How much money will you need? It could range from $50 to $500, really, for plants, soil, containers and accessories. The cost all depends on the size and scope of your garden. And on that note …
3. Start small. Especially if you have some land and lots of coworkers, your first idea might be to till up a plot and plant big. I encourage you to suppress that urge. Plant only what you’re willing to take care of yourself, because ultimately, you’re responsible for this grand idea. Hopefully, other people will help you, but what if they don’t? My advice is to start small and start with containers, like our DIY wooden planter. You can also choose plant varieties that grow smaller and stay tidy, addressing that “messy” perception as well. (The patio plants we chose fit that bill.) Growing vegetables in containers really is fairly simple if you follow a few guidelines. Get some container vegetable garden ideas here.
4. Involve your coworkers. A small group of my handy colleagues knew about this project in advance and helped me pull it together. Fellow blogger Dan Lipe designed the planters and made them by hand. (Aren’t they gorgeous?!) After other folks started seeing what was going on and getting excited about it, I sent a note to my whole department asking for volunteers, and thankfully got lots of interest. We now have a daily schedule for checking on the planters and watering if necessary. Each person just has to check once a week, and it’s a good reminder to get up from our desks and get outside for 5 minutes anyway. You could also get a group more involved in planning and planting.
Now that you’re inspired, get started on your own workplace garden! Remember to start small. It could just be a few patio containers this year. And let us know how it goes … or grows. Tell us in the comments and post your pictures on Instagram using @diynetwork and #maderemade.
For more tips, see the galley below.
This post is part of our Making Good series about makers who use their DIY skills to better their communities. Check back for more Making Good posts, including ideas you can bring to your own community.