So fresh and so green: Introducing the SHI Community Garden!
Learn about the new greenery coming to Somerset this spring

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SHI is an international company, but our roots – and our global headquarters – romaine in New Jersey. So, when Employee Engagement and Culture Manager Takeysha Baskerville had the idea to develop our very own garden, it felt like the idea had been a long thyme coming.

(Okay, okay… maybe every sentence doesn’t need a green pun!)

Takeysha recruited Senior Manager of Marketing Operations (and horticulture enthusiast) Lisa Cowley to begin planning the space. Employee Engagement & Culture Specialist Valentina Cortes rounds out our green-thumbed trio. She took the lead on organizing the entire initiative, facilitating coordination between departments to bring this vision to life.

Simply mint to be

As the team began to sketch out this new initiative, they outlined the benefits of hosting a community garden in Somerset, NJ. This little slice of greenery will:

  • Promote healthy eating via our herb garden and food donations
  • Benefit the environment, with on-site composting and a habitat for bees and flowers to thrive
  • Drive employee engagement by beautifying the campus and providing volunteer opportunities
  • Offer educational moments during Earth Month and Bring Your Child to Work Day
  • Support mental health with a space for employees to clear their heads during the day

An SHI employee shows off her custom succulent.

Taking a leaf of faith

The garden will be located behind our main headquarters building and offer a slew of opportunities for SHI’s NJ staff members to assist with the building and upkeep of this space. And for employees who just want to take their lunch break outside, they’ll be able to drink in the natural beauty – the garden plot is adjacent to a popular patio.

This space will be split into four distinct regions:

Main Garden

SHI will plant a variety of fruits and vegetables in approximately twenty large, raised beds, including Jersey tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, jalapeños, and eggplant. We’ll donate anything we harvest to local food banks, which don’t always have fresh options available.

Herb Garden

This raised bed garden will offer a variety of herbs, including basil, parsley, cilantro, mint, and rosemary. Employees will be encouraged to pick at their leisure to enhance lunchtime flavors in this handicapped-accessible space.

Compost Area

We understand that many employees will not want to volunteer in the dirt during work, but they can still help the planet by composting their lunch leftovers. This will reduce waste at headquarters and enrich the garden soil – a win for Mother Nature.

“There will also be a compost bin out back and compost collection sites in headquarters, with information for SHI employees promoting the benefits of composting,” Lisa added.

Flowers

We’ll be planting flowers around the back patio, in the ground and in planters, to help beautify the area and encourage bees to join the fun. Bees are vital to a garden for the pollination of the plants.

Good chives only

The SHI Community Garden will be completed in May, but kickoff events are already in full swing here in Somerset. Let’s explore the spring lineup:

  • Earth Week – SHI is hosting succulent planting sessions during lunch this week in New Jersey and Texas. Employees are invited to decorate pots and plant succulents to enjoy at home or their desks.
  • Earth Day – We’ll be planting flowers this Friday, April 22, to celebrate the official opening of the SHI Community Garden.
  • Bring Your Child to Work Day – When the youth of the SHI community arrive at headquarters on April 28, they’ll enjoy an educational session and activity linked to our new garden.
  • Mental Health Awareness Month – May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and SHI will be planting flowers early in the month to raise awareness and help reduce the stigma so many experience.
  • Planting time – We’ll plant the rest of the herbs and vegetables in mid-May.
  • Fresh food – The local Somerset community will enjoy delicious food throughout the summer.

You grow, girl!

As our garden begins to take shape, Takeysha reflected on the impact it will have on our SHI community in New Jersey.

“Gardening has amazing benefits that we are eager to incorporate into the SHI culture! It provides an opportunity for improved nutrition, mental wellness, physical activity, social engagement, and working with our local community.”

And this is just the beginning! After the SHI Community Garden launches at our headquarters, we’ll be replicating this project at other facilities. SHI is proud to support our local communities, and we encourage you to help celebrate Earth Month by investing in our planet.