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.