Four years ago, the Nordic Ware Community Garden Project was launched in the back yard of our corporate offices and manufacturing facilities in Minneapolis. What began as a simple idea to encourage people to eat more vegetables and get outdoors into the sunshine during the workday has grown into a much larger opportunity: A chance to give back to the community around us. Situated on a prime south-facing plot of land next to our shipping and distribution building and simplistic in its design, the Garden Project has 28 plots measuring 8'x4', a simple cedar shed to house our seeds and tools, a compost pile, and fencing to keep out neighborhood pests--the local bunnies, chipmunks and gophers who love to feast on our vegetables.
What we offer to all of our employees is simple: Nordic Ware will provide a plot plus all materials, seedlings, seeds and necessary tools to grow a healthy garden. In exchange, each participating employee agrees to practice 100% organic gardening throughout the growing season (no pesticides or man-made fertilizers!) as well as donate at least 10% of their weekly harvest to our local food shelf. The remainder can be taken home to be enjoyed with family.
In recent years, our hometown of Minneapolis has had a renewed interest in the Buy Local movement, especially as it pertains to locally-grown produce. Farmer's markets and produce stands have sprouted up across town, and many restaurants are growing their own greens on rooftops and in vacant parking lots. Consumers are starting to take notice to where their fruit and vegetables were grown because they now understand the sustainability implications that buying or growing local can have.
In our own way, we're trying to use our Community Garden Project as an educational tool to further the Buy Green, Buy Local movement. Each summer, our Factory Store hosts a cooking class for the public that includes a trip through our gardens to harvest vegetables for the host chef to cook with. We maintain a bi-weekly vegetarian lunch in our offices where we utilize what we're harvesting to make a healthy meal for everyone to enjoy.
At the end of our growing season, our garden participants gather to share a meal created from what we've harvested over the summer. This Harvest Dinner is a great time to share learnings from the garden, as well as recipes.
We are excited to announce a new addition to the Nordic Ware Community Garden that arrived this May 2016. Our honey bees have arrived to their new home at the south side of our buildings, west of our Community Garden and east of the Nordic Ware tower. They come to us from the University of Minnesota's Bee Lab on the St. Paul campus, where research is taking place to help bees make a comeback. Ours is a very small hive -- only 15,000 bees and two stories high to start-- but we'll add boxes as the colony grows. We hope they'll need a high rise hive by summer’s end! Not only will they pollinate our gardens and other flowers within a 2 mile radius of their hive, but with a bit of luck, they'll produce over 40 lbs of honey by autumn. They are amazing creatures! See the bees up close by walking along the bike trail and looking through the fence to the bottom of the hive where they'll be coming and going from the entrance.
If you happen to be biking or walking along the Greenway, stop by and pay us a visit! We'd love to show you around.