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Employees at C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Inc. are taking time out of their lunch hour to make sure that those in need have fresh vegetables on their plates during the dinner hour.
The Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson Community Giving Garden, opened in the spring of 2011, was inspired by the company’s Summer of Wellness campaign which encourages employees to participate in a variety of community and wellness events in support of healthy living.
As one of the largest produce sourcing and third party logistics companies in the world, working closely with produce is nothing new. Over 100 employees from C.H. Robinson’s Eden Prairie, MN offices teamed up and are responsible for planting, watering, weeding and harvesting their plots throughout the growing season. After harvesting, employees donate all the items to People Reaching Out to Other People (PROP), a volunteer-driven agency serving the residents of Chanhassen and Eden Prairie.
"PROP has experienced unprecedented growth over the past seven years and is very excited for this opportunity," said Anne Harnack, executive director of PROP. "The fresh garden items will bring such joy to our clients who do their best to provide a healthy and nutritious diet for there families on very limited budgets. C.H. Robinson’s Community Giving Garden is an innovative approach to meeting the hunger needs of the 3,700 individuals (47% children) that PROP serves."
To help get things started, each team was supplied with seeds, plants, gardening tools and expertise from a master gardener, who is also a C.H. Robinson employee.
"With over 100 years of experience in the produce industry and our employee’s passion for volunteering, the Community Giving Garden provides an avenue to support the community in a unique way. We know that our success is dependent on the health and productivity of the community around us and this is a wonderful way to show our support to those in need," said Laura Gillund, VP of Human Resources.
In addition to creating a Community Giving Garden, C.H. Robinson also donated a plot of land to Hands for Harvest, a local non-profit organization co-founded by a C.H. Robinson employee, Travis Dahlke. Hands for Harvest aims to build community and provide food for local food shelves by working together to plant, cultivate and harvest crops on volunteer farms. Over the past two years, Hands for Harvest has grown and donated over 20,000 pounds of potatoes, carrots and onions to local food shelves and food banks. In addition to working with other area food shelves, Hands for Harvest will also supply PROP with potatoes for their clients.
"The relationship with C.H. Robinson this year has been huge. Since Hands for Harvest relies solely upon the donation of time from volunteers to grow and care for the produce being grown for food shelves, moving closer to the Twin Cities has placed us closer to our volunteer base. We are grateful for the donation of land from C.H. Robinson and aim to be good stewards of it as we seek to work with the greater community to help those around us that are in need," said Dahlke.
To celebrate the success of the program, C.H. Robinson will host an open house for its employees and their families on Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 5 p.m. at the Community Giving Garden.