It's pretty hard not to be inspired by Fred Haberman. Although he apologizes profusely - and repeatedly - during our lunch for being exhausted ("I was at the farm before 5 this morning," he says, "I'm starting to feel dizzy"), Fred is articulate and passionate as he describes Haberman's company sponsored organic farm.
Haberman, a Twin Cities-based, cause-oriented public relations firm whose clients include Organic Valley, Annie's Homegrown organic foods, and most Twin Cities Co-ops, is no stranger to good food - or to thinking big. Still, the company garden, located on a piece of land in Delano, MN, has already got Fred thinking more about food than usual, and bigger than ever before.
"The company garden benefit is innovative," Fred says, "it actually provides food for employees and their families. It's great for team building and helps families get to know each other." Fred's just getting started. The connection between health care and food is clear, he tells me. When people work in a garden, "it's an indicator that they'll make more conscious choices related to their health and food in the future." At a cost of only $5,000 - $10,000 for a company to get started (the approximate cost of land, supplies, and labor - including someone to care for the garden while employees are at work), it's a no brainer.
Haberman call themselves "modern storytellers," and it's clear that this story has many angles and benefits. Eating better improves our heatlh, saving critical health care dollars. Growing our own food teaches us to make better decisions about our food. And company gardens, which need to be watered more often than employees can generally get out into the field, create green jobs. The opportunites are endless.
The Haberman garden, more than 40 miles from Minneapolis, is located on partner Liz Morris Otto's land, but there's no reason company gardens can't exist right in the city, even on company campuses. As far as Haberman's concerned, the closer the connection, the better.
Fred clearly enjoys what he's started. More than 80% of Haberman's employees have been out to the garden so far this summer, many of them multiple times. Employees are engaged and excited, and many are cooking and eating better. The garden has produced more than 80 pounds of beans already. What's more, Fred's got all sorts of garden related events and activites in the works, including a fall festival he's calling "Dudestock" in a nod to his company's logo. (I'm hoping they serve White Russians.)
As Fred continues to pursue his passion around local, organic food, word is getting out there. Other companies are asking how to start their own gardens. Of course, when you need to get the word out, being a nationally recognized PR firm helps. So does having a great idea.
For more information, contact Haberman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post was proudly submitted to Food Renegade's Fight Back Fridays.