May 24, 2018 | Atlanta, GA
Last month, employees of Procurement & Business Services realized a long-held vision when they transformed the grassy area behind their office into a community garden. Through the leadership of staff, and the help of volunteers, raised beds were constructed, soil was poured, and fruit and vegetables were planted over the course of a Saturday afternoon. “This has been a priority that has finally come to fruition. The vegetable garden is not only a sustainability initiative, but an opportunity for people to bond together outside the office,” said Frans Barends, senior director of Procurement & Business Services.
The finished garden was made possible by a true community effort. Staff from Facilities Management constructed the raised beds and provided the compost, staff from Procurement & Business Services volunteered the top soil and plants, and Campus Services coordinated the effort. Further, Matthew Ritch and Isabelle Musmanno, students from the campus organization Students Organizing for Sustainability, shared their expertise in managing a community garden by volunteering at the planting. Joy Crawford, analyst with Procurement & Business Services, reflects on the value of the collaboration, “I believe the garden showed how team work adds strength to our campus.”
The dedication of Procurement & Business Services to the garden goes beyond the desire to beautify the space. As participants in both the Office of Campus Sustainability’s Work Green and Health Initiatives’ Certified Healthy programs, the department is committed to providing a work environment that is environmentally friendly and that supports employee health and happiness. The garden will provide access to sustainable, locally grown produce while providing a place for employees to gather while getting a bit of exercise and fresh air.
The garden was also created with the intent of serving as a campus-wide model for establishing requirements to build and maintain such a resource. Malte Weiland, senior sustainability project manager with Campus Services, explains, “The example being set by Procurement & Business Services in their community garden will set the standard for similar gardens across campus. Through research and benchmarking, the garden management team has developed comprehensive processes that can be easily replicated at other sites. Simultaneously, they have pursued a garden design that is clear and visually appealing, further promoting this model for future gardens.”