After what seems like the coldest winter in years, we’re gearing up for another season of community gardening at Boston Financial’s Lawrence, Kansas office. It all started in early 2012 when managers John Robinson and Scott Visocsky collaborated on a plan to create a community garden. They envisioned it being planned, supported, and maintained by volunteer associates, all on the grounds of the Lawrence office. I still remember the email asking for volunteers.
Jump forward to spring 2014; what was once a flower bed adjacent to our building is now a three-season organic garden. We’ve donated over 1,400 pounds of organic vegetables to local food kitchens, our garden has expanded to two plots, and my colleagues and I have become accomplished organic farmers along the way. This spring marks our third annual garden kickoff. I suspect it will be our best year yet.
As green thumb volunteers and veterans poured into the conference room for our recent kickoff meeting, they reminded me of the many reasons I participate in the community garden.
- Awesome people and new friends. Every year, we have a fantastic group of people from a wide range of teams and departments participating. The garden gives us a chance to build new relationships we would otherwise miss out on. Our group consists of line managers, group managers, analysts, flex-time associates, and full-time associates – all working together to better our community.
- Supportive workplace. Not only has Boston Financial provided lawn space for the gardens, they have also provided the supplies and tools to build the garden beds and maintain the gardens. This support makes it easy for me and my fellow associates to do our part as volunteers.
- Give back to the community. Lawrence has been a big part of my life for the past six years. The town has helped make me who I am. This is my home. I want to do everything I can to make it a better place. What better way to give back than by volunteering my time toward furthering the community.
- Learn the ropes. When we started the community garden, I didn’t know anything about the process. Our team leaders, Scott Visocsky and Travis Mize, brought tons of knowledge to our volunteers about how to start and maintain an organic garden. With their guidance, I’ve learned to build garden beds, mix compost/soil, identify weeds, plant seasonal crops, make organic bug spray, and harvest crops. Last summer, we took our community garden a step further. Several gardeners and I were given the opportunity to work in the kitchen of the Lawrence Community Shelter, a local food bank in Lawrence, preparing meals from the food we had grown and donated. These are skills I can use the rest of my life for home gardening or for a new community garden project.
- Pass it on. Another rewarding part of gardening is being able to share experiences with others. I posted a few pictures of our community garden on Facebook. Since then, people have asked me for advice on how to start their own organic garden. I’ve been able to assist my family, past professors, and friends in planning vegetable plots. Even the Arkansas City Chamber of Commerce, my home town, has contacted me about starting a community garden.
With the support of the management and volunteers, Boston Financial has grown its presence as a company that gives back to the Lawrence community. I’m proud to be part of our community garden movement in Lawrence. I can’t wait to see what we will grow and gain this year.