The Guild Report:  
An Employee Garden Gives Back
March 2012 
In This Issue
Point of View
Employee Gardens
Making Fuel from Plastic
Agilent Compost Bins

Point of View  
With Employee Owner
Dean Aquila

"I've been with Gardeners' Guild for about nine months. I feel very lucky to be with such a successful company with a great reputation in this industry.


Everybody here has been very welcoming and pleasant to work with. I enjoy coming to work everyday. The projects have been both challenging and exciting, with great clients. I look forward to a long future here."


Dean is the Production Manager in our Construction Division and was also involved in the Agilent Employee Garden Project.





 Agilent's Employee Garden



There is "growing" enthusiasm for gardening - in general and in the business world, more companies are sponsoring employee gardens. They bring together diverse people; foster collaboration and enhance morale.   

In fact, getting out of the office, doing physical work and connecting with nature is a corporate benefit and more people recognize it as such.  In 2010, Human Resource Executive magazine named employer-sponsored gardens as one of the top five employee benefits.


Gardeners' Guild started one last year.  It was a team effort which yielded an abundance of organic vegetables.  And, we are at it again this spring.  


This issue of the Guild Report features an employee garden installation that we performed this year for Agilent Technologies in Santa Rosa.  It was an opportunity for them to realize a long time vision and  to collaborate with a non profit which helps developmentally disabled individuals. 


Please let us know if you have comments or any stories that you think might be interesting for the newsletter.  



All the best,
Suzanne Harris

Agilent's Employee Garden

Agilent Technologies in Santa Rosa has been our client since 1996. During that time we have worked together evolving our landscape management toward a more sustainable approach. In 2010, we began using sheep and goats as an alternative to gas powered equipment for weed abatement. This strategy, called managed grazing, was not only effective for firebreak work it was also a hit with employees.


Early this year we were hired to build Agilent's first employee garden in the US. This project has been a vision of the site for several years and in 2012 Agilent was able to fund the project. Having an employee garden is a natural extension of Agilent's commitment to wellness and sustainability. Management believes it will also help to recruit and retain a new generation of engineers who consider this an important employee benefit.


The project consisted of building raised beds, a lathhouse and a tool shed. Plantings consisted of vegetables and seventeen fruit trees including persimmons, apples, pears, plums, cherries and figs. Daniel Levy, GGI Account Manager for Agilent, consulted with them on plant types. 


Three quarters of the garden are tended by employee teams. The teams were selected by a lottery system - affectionately called the "plottery". The remaining quarter of the garden is managed by an organization called Becoming Independent. Becoming Independent is a Santa Rosa non-profit which works with developmentally disabled adults and has a gardening division.  They will harvest the vegetables to be used by Agilent's on site café.


The current garden is Phase 1 of their plan.  By 2013 they are hoping to expand the garden by a half an acre.


See photos:  top left are compost bins; bottom left are planter beds that make up the garden.



Making Fuel from Plastic?

Did you know that only 7% of plastic waste is recycled each year?  (According to the Environmental Protection Agency) 


It is this statistic that became an opportunity for a start up in Niagra Falls. The secret is a machine that converts plastic into oil invented by owner, John Bordynuik.  It does this by rearranging its hydrocarbon chains. Evidently the technology is efficient.  According to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, 90% of the plastic is converted into fuel.


Miraculous.  Is it sustainable?


Ironically, Bordynuik says it has been hard to sell his fuel because it has been labeled by some as a "green" alternative.  Not so fast, says a journalist for a plastic industry trade journal.  He isn't convinced that this process can be called recycling.  What do you think? 


Check out their website: