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Bountiful Harvest Yields Tons of Goodwill

Row of garden pots

BankSecurity planters outside Eugene, OR, federal building were turned into a community garden. 

GSA employees at the Eugene, Oregon, Federal Building found a creative way to support their neighborhood and the spirit of the “United We Serve” challenge initiated by President Obama. Last spring, instead of planting summer flowers, employees turned the 30 security pots that surround the building into a verdant, edible oasis. Within weeks, the community garden yielded a veritable smorgasbord of fresh fruits and vegetables, from apples to zucchini. 

Each harvest was donated to the Food for Lance County food bank, providing a healthy alternative to low income families who might not otherwise be able to afford fresh foods. Thus far, team volunteers have donated 119 lbs. of fruits and vegetables.

The project also supports the initiative to green the government by reducing surface run-off, encouraging organic practices, and demonstrating to the public that you don't need a large plot of land to enjoy the benefits of a garden. In fact, half of the planters are only 3 to 4 feet in diameter and about 2 feet tall.

The team’s work has received accolades from Eugene’s community. Passersby regularly complimented the volunteers on the quality of the produce, the sweetness of the tomatoes, and the glow of the corn. Many were surprised to find that a sizeable watermelon can, in fact, be grown in a pot.

“The building tenants would regularly explore the 30 planters to see what was new and possibly supplement their lunch with a fresh carrot, cucumber or a handful of blueberries and strawberries,” said Ron Feist, GSA’s local lease administration manager. “The passing public would all of a sudden stop walking in front of the Federal Building when they realized that they were in the middle of a vegetable garden -- all being grown in containers. It was a good example of taking an ordinary space and showing how it can benefit the building tenants, the environment, and the local food bank.”

 

Man standing with shovel in pot of plants

GSA Property Manager Ron Feist harvests potatoes.

Man standing in warehouse with box of vegetables

GSA Assistant Property Manager Ryan Anderson delivers produce to the Food for Lane County Food

 

Eugene, oregon, federal building, vegetables, garden