Gardening at work is sprouting up all over

April 11, 2011: 11:05 AM ET

Corporate-backed employee gardens are growing like weeds, and for good reason, as they offer benefits to employee health and morale.

By Vickie Elmer, contributor

FORTUNE -- The employee gardens at Timberland's Stratham, N.H., headquarters are eating up the lawns and sprouting new sections. Fruit trees were planted in a roundabout in front last fall, and a big arbor for native grape varieties will go in sometime this year. Next year, the shady patch behind Timberland's leased offices could become a blueberry patch.

Timberland's Victory Garden in Stratham, N.H.

"We're going to run out of space pretty quickly," says Betsy Blaisdell, senior manager of environmental stewardship at Timberland (TBL), maker of boots, shoes and other outdoor gear.

Space may be sparse, but enthusiasm runs high for Timberland's Victory Garden, and for the overall concept. Corporate-backed employee gardens are growing like weeds, experts say, with small firms and Fortune 500 companies both buying topsoil and seeds.

"Anecdotally, there's a lot of indicators that it is increasing," says Steve Bates, manager of online editorial content at the Society of Human Resource Managers.

While no one has a good count on the number of gardens planted next to employer parking lots and in corners of office parks in the last couple of years, growth has been fueled largely by growing interest in employee wellness and an effort to give workers a low-cost benefit. More

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