Community gardening at work

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Community gardens have been planted at parks, near schools and in abandoned lots. Some exist only in containers surrounded by asphalt.

If you're a Columbus resident looking to get involved, you likely can find one close to where you live.

Green Thumb Revolution wants to put one where you work.

Founded by friends and longtime dirt-lovers Katie Adams, Christine Annarino and Derek Lory, the start-up operation offers consulting services to local businesses that want to plan a workplace garden and encourage their employees to dig in.

"There's no shortage of community gardens in Columbus," Adams said. "But we're really going after the people who haven't been exposed to gardening."

Can't envision planting or harvesting at the office?

Picture a few decorative planters stuffed with potatoes instead of petunias. Think about the aroma of thyme or basil wafting in from a break-room window box. Imagine weeding a strawberry patch to build a team's rapport.

"A lot of companies have wellness programs," Annarino said, "but no one is focusing on the relaxation, exercise and nutritional information that come with gardening."

Even companies without sprawling lawns, planters or landscaped beds could produce edible plants, the three founders insisted.

"People feel like if they don't have any green space, they can't grow anything," Annarino said. "We're trying to dissuade that notion."

When tapped for services, the Green Thumb squad surveys a company's commitment level and assesses space and supply needs. It compiles all logistical information, diagrams a planting blueprint and returns to install the goods alongside company workers.

"With a business garden, it helps with initiative," Annarino said. "At work, it's there in your face - and it's time outside."

After the garden's in, Green Thumb members give an educational seminar about the crops and provide tip sheets that cover everything from maintenance to harvesting.

Adams, Lory and Annarino have worked for years with neighborhood projects - and think that workplace gardening will attract many who wouldn't join a community plot.

"I think people are smart enough to comprehend the benefits of environmental issues," Lory said. "Sometimes you just get wrapped up in your own life."

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