"Get some plants!" is becoming a common cry for office culture warriors seeking ways to spruce up the workplace, and for data-backed reasons. The presence of plants has long been linked to a reduction in stress, noise and air toxins in the workplace. Doesn't hurt that they're aesthetically pleasing either.
One has to wonder, though, how much tangible difference a few plants in the windows makes to an employee's day. Whether a stressful work environment or a tediously mundane one, furniture is furniture, and as they stand in most offices, plants are definitely furniture. Except you can't sit on them.
Which is to say maximizing the holistic qualities plants offer probably requires more active participation.
Enter garden clubs.
Company Garden Clubs
While residential garden clubs may be on the rise, they certainly don't spring overnight. In New York housing communities, for example, they usually require some support from a non-profit like GrowNYC and plenty of cooperation from development partners. You can imagine, then, the difficulty in running a garden club out of a commercial space.
And yet, the company garden isn't exactly a new idea. A few years ago, they, too, were reportedly on the rise.
At the time, providing a corporte garden seemed like a concession driven largely by the recession, a perk intended as a balm for pay grade freezes and slowing business.
They were also almost entirely exclusive to big companies with compounds and campuses. PepsiCo in Purchase, NY. Google and Yahoo in Silicon Alley. Kohl's headquarters in Milwaukee. You certainly weren't hearing about them in crammed urban centers with dense populations like New York City.
Now it's 2016. Companies aren't just interested in offering perks for the sake of offsetting lower salaries. They're offering great perks because they know they help lure—and retain—talent. They're offering them because happiness is lucrative. And gardening brings happiness to a staggering number of people in the US. By last count, nearly 1 in 3 homes is growing some kind of food in the US, and the presence of community gardens has grown by at least 200 percent.
A number of potential benefits to workplace gardening abound.
- The act of tending to the garden is great for team building.
- It provides employees with a break in the form of healthy physical activity.
- It gives those who are practised gardeners a fulfilling outlet.
- It gives those who are curious but exactly experts the opportunity to learn.
- And the produce could be used to stock the kitchen with healthy food.
If Companies Are Serious...
About making the office more like a home, the company garden won't just be relegated to corporate campuses alone. The garden clubs springing up in residential communities like Long Island City will start to make sense to a lot more commercial investors, developers, and tenants, too.