Not everyone gets to step out from their workplace and pinch off some fresh dill to top their leftover salmon at lunchtime. Or bring tomatoes home from work for dinner. Unless you work at our Design Yard facility in Holland, Michigan, where a group of employees have nurtured a garden full of veggies, herbs, and perennials for all employees to enjoy.
Shasta daisies, yarrow, lavender, salvia, rudbeckia, and butterfly bush bring in the bees. Once lured, they pollinate the heirloom tomatoes, beans, zucchini, and fruit tree blossoms. As you walk around these vegetables, your ankles are tickled by catmint, tarragon, sage, dill, and cilantro. The garden also has beets, radishes, and kohlrabi.
Herman Miller provided an initial financial contribution for this experiment in permaculture, which was the vision of a small team of employees: Willie Beattie, Bob Beck, Carolyn Maalouf, and Thaddeus Owen. They were intrigued with the principles of permaculture and how they closely parallel principles that guide healthy organizations. They recruited volunteers from the Design Yard, turning grass into a cardboard-compost-woodchip-layered source of nutrients for plants.
The team thought the garden could provide other benefits, too, such as encouraging self-sufficiency, reinforcing what it means to be a corporate citizen, engaging employees in new ways of planting, and learning more about our relationship with the planet. Plus, a community garden is consistent with Herman Miller’s corporate values and the philosophy of nurturing and growing inherently expressed by the Design Yard facility.
Many employees have been able to take home the harvest. When the yield is high, vegetables are set out in baskets for people to take home for free, which also encourages people to eat local and organic fare. Herman Miller’s customers benefit, too, since our corporate catering service often picks fresh flowers to fill vases where we welcome guests.
By Marcia Davis