Broccoli, beets, carrots and peppers, spinach, romaine and buttercrisp lettuces. Since 2009, employees of the Vancouver Island community of Ladysmith have been turning the flower beds around the town hall into vegetable gardens, donating all their crops to the Ladysmith Food Bank. The produce display is beautiful – and bountiful.
“We sow a few hundred plants and get a good amount of vegetables,” says Glen Britton, an original member of the town’s employee-based Green Team and parks supervisor who oversees the planting and harvesting with six employees.
In-house employee Green Teams who come up with and manage environmental initiatives have become integral to most of Canada’s Greenest Employers for 2012. All Green Team members are volunteers, both off and on the company clock, for projects such as paper conservation, energy reduction, tree-planting and recycling electronics, often working in partnership with community organizations.
The Ladysmith garden project grew out of a combination of community, employee and city council support. One key needed for success is having support from the top down.
“When we established a Green Team in 2008, we left it open to all our employees so anyone who had an interest could be part of it,” says Ruth Malli, Ladysmith’s city manager and a member of their Green Team. “Meetings are held during working hours. We chose to do it on the employer’s time because we wanted to show employees it was important enough to dedicate some of their work time to it. A lot of work is done on their own time as well.”