Greens Grow in Golden Valley: General Mills’ Giving Garden Benefits Second Harvest Heartland

August 15, 2013 By: Sara Blair Category: WordPress Import

Looking at the lush foliage, mulch and ripening veggies in the General Mills Giving Garden, you’d never believe you were just a few yards from the busy intersection of Interstate 394 and Highway 169, in the shadow of the corporation’s busy headquarters. However, this suburban plot has been a fruitful way for General Mills to expand its tremendous support of Second Harvest Heartland.

“We always love it when we’re out here weeding, and trucks give us honks of support,” says Kris Gauthier, a business development analyst in General Mills Convenience & Foodservice Group, who also serves as co-chair of the Giving Garden.

In the last three years, General Mills has donated more than 6,000 pounds of produce from the Giving Garden to several hunger relief partners, including Second Harvest Heartland. This year, despite a slow start and cold spring, the 2,700 square-foot garden is producing almost 50 rows of vegetables, from cool crops such as bok choy and lettuce to carrots, cabbage, jalapeno peppers and many kinds of tomatoes.

The idea for the Giving Garden (GG) started a few years ago, driven by an initiative from Blue Cross Blue Shield and enthusiastically championed by employees and volunteers as part of General Mills Community Action. The GG team worked with its facilities group at General Mills’ headquarters to select a sunny site, till the soil, erect a fence and attach irrigation hoses to the campus sprinkler system. An employee volunteer agronomist at a General Mills location in LeSueur, Minn., starts the plants from seed every winter, and volunteers meet weekly from late spring through September to prepare the soil, plant, weed and harvest.

In addition, another employee volunteer, a manager in the Betty Crocker Kitchens at General Mills, develops recipe ideas for the more unusual vegetables (radish pods and edamame, for example). Many pounds of apples from the trees on General Mills property are also gleaned by employee volunteers.

“This is a great way for our employees to be active in the community, enjoy the outdoors and be part of the hunger solution,” says Kris.

Thank you, General Mills, for your creative, fresh contributions to Second Harvest Heartland!


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