The joy of growing and harvesting your own produce is no longer an after-hours luxury, with fruit trees and vegetable patches popping up at corporate offices around Australia.
Banks, advertising agencies and factories are among businesses planting edible gardens on site for employees to tend and take home the fruits of their labour.
Experts say it’s a growing trend.
Produce from the garden at Medibank’s offices in Melbourne. Photo: Medibank / Facebook
Duncan Cocking, of Leaf, Root and Fruit gardening services, said Melbourne was leading the way with workplace fruit-and-veg cultivation, while demand was growing in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra.
“Edible gardens are a natural progression from rooftop gardens, community gardens and vegetables grown on nature strips. I think we are just at the start of the trend,” Duncan said.
“We spend the bulk of our waking hours at work, and businesses want to give employees a positive, enriched environment. An office with edibles that staff can take home all through the year is very appealing.”
Melbourne factory Heritage Fine Chocolates has gardens tended by workers. Photos: Leaf, Root and Fruit
Health insurer Medibank included a communal kitchen garden at its building in Docklands, Melbourne, which aims to be the healthiest workplace in Australia.
Edibles in a commercial environment help purify the air, put workers in touch with the seasons and build a sense of community, Duncan said.
“Staff can step away from their desk to pick some fresh salad leaves, herbs and fruit for their lunches,” he said. “If taken good care of, the gardens will harvest a limitless supply for everyone.”
Growing edibles has benefits for staff and the office environment. Photo:Leaf, Root and Fruit
Better Homes and Gardens landscaper Jason Hodges said workplace gardens required a minimal investment for enormous results.
“Just like Microsoft allows its staff to have a sleep during the day or play games, edible gardens in the workplaces is a sensible version of that,” Jason said.
“It provides a food source, helps staff to relax and creates a more aesthetically appealing workplace.”
“Businesses could get creative with an outdoor or indoor green space oasis. Once a month staff could have a barbecue and maybe a celebrity chef could come in and show them how to use the produce they have grown.”
So what are the best conditions for growing edibles?
While you don’t need an outdoor space, produce grown in an office with lots of natural light and large north-facing windows will fare best.
Salad leaves and greens – lettuce, spinach, silver beet and herbs – require little upkeep and handle lower light.
Roots such as carrots, parsnip and beetroot will also grow well in an indoor environment.
Veggies should be planted in raised garden beds positioned near windows where they get sun for at least five hours a day.
Fruit trees can be potted and are ideal for staff balconies but won’t be very productive indoors.
- Whether it’s an edible patch or a vertical garden, get started with help from gardening experts through our partners at OneFlare and embrace the cultivation trend in your workplace.
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