What’s Growing On (Part One): A Look at Three Corporate Kitchen Gardens

The garden at eBay

At Bon Appétit, we love local food — just ask the thousand-plus small farmers, fishers, and artisans who supply us through our Farm to Fork program. Inspired by them, teams at many of our corporate accounts have started growing some of their own food. (At our education accounts, students have usually taken the lead and started productive farms from which we gladly buy.) These corporate “kitchen gardens” not only provide ultra-fresh herbs and other produce, but also give us the opportunity to educate our guests about importance of local and sustainable food — and the hard work that goes into growing it.

No Bon Appétit Management Company account is alike, and that’s true for the gardens as well. Some are traditional raised beds with drip-irrigation systems, others are creative solutions to tight space constraints. What they plant is driven by the chefs’ research into what grows well in their regions, what their guests like, and what might be able to replace items that aren’t sourced locally. While most of these corporate gardens just supplement our produce deliveries, our chefs know how to stretch what they pick to share the bounty with as many guests as possible – such as taking a couple dozen pounds of zucchini to make zucchini bread or using lettuce from the garden in a chef’s special salad.

Here’s the first installment of a series spotlighting kitchen gardens at our corporate accounts across the country:

The vertical trellis at Target

Bon Appétit has gardens at all three of our Target locations in the Minneapolis, MN region. At Café Target, they have a vertical trellis on wheels; staff rotate the trellis to make sure each side gets enough sunlight. The 30-by-70-foot garden at North Campus started two years ago, and gets bigger and better every year. Last year, a garden was started at the Financial Services building, and although it’s smaller than the others, they had a good harvest of herbs and tomatoes.

SAP in Palo Alto, CA is just breaking ground on a new garden. Executive Chef Melissa Miller has requested “all kinds of interesting produce that most people never know how to use, much less, how the heck it grows” such as fava beans, cardoon, and kohlrabi. SAP had its first harvest in May and the Melissa is excited to see what the season will bring.

The eBay garden in Sunnyvale, CA, called “First Street Farms,” was started three years ago and is located on campus within a few feet of both cafés. The garden is tended by the eBay Green Team – employees dedicated to finding ways to reduce the impacts of the company on the environment. Eating locally fit right in with the team’s larger goals. The garden has helped reduce food costs at both of the cafés on campus as well as a third café located about seven miles away. The garden grows a variety of herbs, including specialty ones for all the traditional Indian cooking eBay does, as well as vegetables including chard, green onions, chives, cabbage, fava beans, celery root, and tomatoes.