Posts Tagged ‘victory garden’

Victory Garden Sprouts in Vietnam

Timberland’s code of conduct coordinator in Vietnam had this success story to share from General Shoes Co. Ltd., one of our factory partners there:

In front of me is a garden full of green vegetables and laden with fresh squashes. This is the vegetable garden at the General Shoes factory.

Looking at the vegetable garden in the morning sunshine makes me recall the strike that happened in this factory 10 months ago, sparked by workers dissatisfied by the lack of clean, healthy food.  When the strike occurred, the manager asked me how to solve the problem.  I advised him to use his own workers instead of a food subcontractor to supply and serve food for the factory, and think about how to provide healthy, fresh food for their employees.

The factory hired one new manager who took care of their canteen, and used the factory’s own workers to serve the food. The employees’ food was significantly improved, and feedback showed workers were satisfied with the changes.

6 months later this 2500 square meter vegetable garden was born, planted on the available land behind the factory.  Several factory employees who have planting experience tend to the garden, which is filled with morning glories, bitter melon, squash, cucumbers … planting varies on a seasonal basis and the garden provides fresh vegetables for factory workers every day.

Factory employees shared this positive feedback about their “victory garden”:

“I feel safe when I have lunch in the factory.  Outside vegetables are very expensive and have a lot of chemicals.  I think the factory is kind to plant (the garden) for us.”

“I worked here for years and witnessed many strikes relating to food, but now the factory is much better.  They changed the kitchen people, improved our meals and now we have fresh vegetables.”

“I like to do this job (picking the vegetables).  When I pick, I feel very happy as I see the achievement from my planting.  I would like to have more land for more planting.”

Growing Goodness

We’re only a few weeks into fall and already missing the warm, vibrant days of summer … but comforted by the following video of Timberland’s Victory Garden in full bloom.

The Victory Garden has taken up residence on the front lawn of our corporate headquarters for 3 years now, expanding each summer to offer a broader variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers … which in turn increases the amount of support we’re able to give to the NH Food Bank.

If you’re not familiar with the model, we (humbly) think it’s a pretty good one: Timberland employees built the raised garden beds, plant the seeds, tend to the growing “crops” and pick, pull or otherwise harvest the good when they’re ripe.  The produce is then sold at the Timberland “farm stand,” located in our front lobby.  Employees get good, fresh-from-the-ground veggies, the proceeds go to the NH Food Bank … and we’re putting our corporate landscape to good, green use.  See for yourself:

Have questions about starting a victory garden in your own yard or company?  Inquire here and we’ll have someone from the Timberland Victory Garden committee get back in touch.  And remember … only 149 days til spring …

Share Your Strength for Childhood Hunger

Earthkeeping means caring for our planet … but it also means caring for the people who share it with us.  And leading the pack when it comes to caring for America’s children and their struggle with hunger is Bill Shore, Timberland board member and the founder and executive director of Share our Strength.

Billy was interviewed yesterday on NPR’s program Talk of the Nation, as part of the program’s coverage of the issue of childhood hunger – a critical issue impacting millions of children in the United States, and one President Obama has pledged to end by 2015.  You can listen to the entire program here:

How to help?

  • Support your local food bank in their efforts to get nutritious food to the families in your community that need it.  (Timberland’s front-lawn “Victory Garden” produce is sold to our employees and proceeds go to the NH Food Bank … employees love the fresh veggies and the food bank appreciates the support!)
  • Email your Senators and Representative in support of the Child Nutrition Bill, critical legislation that will further the efforts to end childhood hunger in America.

Just Another Manic Monday

Oh, to be a Timberland Earthkeeper.  Our morning schedule today looked something like this:

1. Host Victory Garden “Open House” to share insight and expertise with local area businesses wanting to start their own corporate lawn gardens.

2.  Harvest and weigh (using super-sophisticated methods) whatever looks ripe for the picking (today’s bounty included herbs, flowers, zucchini, cabbage, green peppers and one odd-looking summer squash).

3.  Haul the fresh produce into our lobby where eager employees gladly exchange donations to the NH Food Bank for a bagful of the best veggies around.

Not a bad way to start the work week.  Our thanks to Ann Caron and her Victory Garden committee for allowing us to videotape them Earthkeeping in action.

(And, just to show you that our volunteer gardeners aren’t the only ones working hard today, the end of the video features some of the crew and equipment working to install our new energy-efficient white roof!)

Those of you who couldn’t make the trip to NH for today’s open house, never fear — we’re always happy to talk to anyone interested in our Victory Garden (or help you figure out how to start your own).  Just let us know the best way to reach you and we’ll be in touch.

Victory Tastes Better When Shared

“We were a busy working family, and I would find it difficult to feed my family in a healthy way, quickly.  So I decided to change our diet … with simple things.  I started adding more fruits and vegetables, trying to sit down and prepare a meal as a family a couple times a week and eating out a little bit less.  Trying to eliminate processed and sugary foods as much as possible.  And I saw some really immediate results with just those minor changes.”

Could be the sentiments of just about any Earthkeeping mother among us, right?  Struggling to balance quick-and-easy with good-for-you food choices.  In fact, it’s First Lady Michelle Obama, discussing the genesis of her victory garden – the topic of a newly-released White House video:

The First Lady’s remarks are probably familiar to every mom among us — the desire to eat healthier and teach our children first hand about good eating habits.  Unfortunately, fresh fruits and vegetables aren’t a readily-available option for some — including those families who rely on local food banks and community meal programs.

All the more reason for us to build on the new/old victory garden “trend” where we can — in backyards and corporate office parks and yes, even on the White House lawn — to provide not only for our own families, but to help feed others who share our desire and need for healthier food.

Possibility in the Pumpkin Patch

I know I should be pondering strategy or making another tough CEO choice, but at the moment, it is summer in NH (short season up here) and out my window, the Timberland victory gardens are bursting out of the ground.

About 3 years ago, a group of employees who happen by coincidence to be residents of New Hampshire and citizens, besides being marketing executives or customer service operators, decided to tear up a big patch of the corporate lawn.

They didn’t ask for much; just permission to desecrate the green lawn arranged in best ugly office-park style around the building that we lease as our corporate headquarters.  Things at Timberland work in mysterious ways — I’m not sure who said it was okay to tear up the lawn, but the next thing you know, we’ve got hammered-together raised beds of vegetables arranged in neat array on the lawn next to our day care center.  And during the winter, the beds sit there, forlorn and shivering.  But come summer, if you are at the window early enough, you can see the action flowing.  Seeds being sown.  Citizen servants from sales and finance, puttering about.  And then, boom — vegetables.  There’s a cart in the front where the employee entrance is, where the volunteers hawk the fresh produce — zucchini as long as my arm, Swiss chard by the basket, and just this week the first ripe tomatoes.  Every penny goes to the local food pantry; given all the downsizing and pain in the economy — some of which has rippled in our building — the food pantries are struggling to keep pace.  And so our team tends the raised beds.

I don’t miss the sound of the lawn mowers from the maintenance crew.  I don’t miss the carbon emissions from those engines nor the cost of operating them.  And some mornings, when it is hard to feel okay in this economy and this world, the sight of Timberland folks weeding and harvesting is the strength I need to do my bit to make things work again.

But more than our small example — I wonder.  What would keep victory gardens, run by employee volunteers on company time, from filling food pantry larders all over our office park … all over our state?  How much civic energy could be channeled, painlessly, from civic purpose and corporate pride and joy, just by raising up victory gardens in office parks across the country?  Stop mowing, start growing.  Don’t need the Congress, even the UN can’t mess this up – it doesn’t require mad skills or deep strategy — just a little bit of employee pitch in, and who knows?  During World War II, victory gardens produced 40 percent of the vegetables consumed in America – 40 percent! – and 20 million gardens helped to empower and reward people in a time when they desperately needed it.  America is hungry again — figuratively and physically.  For just a tiny bit of oomph, good for the company, good for the community … stop mowing and start growing.

I’d be hard pressed to find a better view.

Jeff Swartz
President & CEO, Timberland

Front-Lawn Food

Most kids are relishing these last few weeks of summer, not quite ready to get back into the grind of the school year … but for some, returning to school will be a welcome relief. 

Many children who have access to a federally-funded free lunch program during the school year don’t have the same support during school breaks – leaving them without adequate, nutritious food.  Summer meal programs, offered by many schools and communities, help to bridge the gap – but they’re not universally available, and most programs don’t have the funding or resources right now to grow.

All the more reason to support local food banks that work to get critically-needed food items and services to the families who need them.  The wet, hot weather we’ve enjoyed here in New Hampshire has done wonders for our front-lawn Victory Garden, producing nearly 250 pounds of fresh herbs, flowers and vegetables so far this summer … which, when purchased by the Timberland community at our in-house “farm stand” translates into more than $600 for the NH Food Bank – enough money to buy 2,436 meals for people living with hunger in our state.

We think the Timberland tomatoes are to die for … but not nearly as satisfying as knowing our home-grown bounty is also helping to feed others in our community.  Back to the harvesting …

No More Mowing – Veggies Growing!

Timberland Victory Garden, Stratham, NH

First Lady Michelle Obama isn’t the only one replacing green lawns with gardens … at Timberland’s New Hampshire headquarters, we’re into year two of our “Victory Garden” — raised beds growing everything from carrots and tomatoes to swiss chard and beets.  The garden was created last summer on open lawn in front of our building, and gained quick popularity among employees who purchase the freshly grown and picked goods all summer long (Victory Garden proceeds are donated to a local food bank).