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At Hillsboro’s Intel, the community garden is a company perk with a purpose

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Jeanie Jarvis works at Intel, but is also a master gardener and helped initiate the garden at the Jones Farm plant. Photo by Michael Lloyd, The Oregonian

32,000-square-foot employee community garden

Katy Muldoon,
The Oregonian
June 18, 2010

Excerpt:

HILLSBORO — Tomatoes climb toward the sky. Spinach bolts over raised-bed walls. Podding radishes, already 4 feet tall, boast peppery seed pods bound for the salad bowl.

All of it grows in an unlikely spot — at the edge of a sprawling parking lot on Intel’s Jones Farm campus.

The 32,000-square-foot employee community garden, its 81 beds planted for the first time this spring, joins a handful of plots nationwide outside such companies as PepsiCo, Toyota and Aveda. Employees plant, weed and putter before work and after, during lunch breaks and on weekends.

Think of company gardens as perks with a purpose.

“Happy employees are productive employees,” says Dave Karlson, site manager at Google’s data center in The Dalles, where workers have tilled, seeded and harvested a small communal plot for several years. “Gardening is a great way people can get away from their desk for a few minutes and check on their tomatoes.”

Intel employees thought so, too. About a year ago, several suggested that the technology company allow them to transform a weedy swath into an organic vegetable garden.

The notion fit nicely into Intel’s Great Place to Work program, which offers everything from on-site dry cleaning and free coffee to college scholarships and reimbursement for adoption-related expenses. The program’s goal, says Bill MacKenzie, communications manager: “Make employees feel happy and appreciated.”

See the rest of the garden here.