Program Bringing Organic Produce to the Workplace a Huge Success at Whirlpool Corp.
When people think about wellness programs at work, the immediate images that come to mind revolve around smoking cessation programs or reimbursement for exercise equipment and gym memberships. But one unique perk that is gaining popularity among businesses nationwide is having the farm market come right to the workplace through a Community Supported Agriculture program (CSA) like the one started last year by the Whirlpool Women’s Network Employee Resource Group (ERG).
The program, which delivers fresh, organic vegetables once per week to subscribers, will start in late June and run through the week before Thanksgiving. Building on the program that began last year, this is the first time Whirlpool Corporation has actually partnered with a local farm, Granor Farm in Three Oaks. In a true testament to the success of the program, it is already sold out for this season, just a few weeks after sign-ups started.
“The Women’s Network has a few different pillars, and one of them is the “Retain” pillar, which is focused on serving the multitasking working mother,” said Breanne (Bre) Wilson, who is senior associate manager of shopper marketing for Whirlpool Corporation, and a member of the Women’s Network.
“Similar to the ‘Meals to Go’ program, this offers an opportunity to do your grocery shopping at work, so to speak, with a weekly delivery of fresh veggies to feed the family. That doesn’t mean we’ve only had working mothers subscribe, though. We’ve had other employees take part who just enjoyed the convenience of having organic produce delivered to them at work.”
Katie Burdett, Farm Manager for Granor Farm, said they wanted to find a way to better serve the local community, having previously run their bags of organic vegetables as far as Chicago. “A lot of farmers do that, but we really felt that there was demand in the St. Joe Benton Harbor area, and we were already going to the St. Joseph Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.”
The farm had a connection at Whirlpool Corp. through the Women’s Network and the Sustainability Team, so they decided to try and see if there was a way to work together.
“We’ve since completely dumped going all the way to Chicago and have had a lot of success just staying here and connecting with our community here,” said Burdett.
She explained how important it is for farms to become involved with their local communities.
“For us, it’s been really important to diversify what it is that we do and to try to connect with our community so people can make sure they know where their food is being grown,” she said. “We are a certified organic farm, which means that there’s someone auditing every step along the way that keeps us accountable for organic best practices. It’s important for people to feel like they can come and actually talk to a farmer about their produce and trust where their food is coming from.”
Although the CSA program was a huge success at Whirlpool Corporation and is filled for this season, you can still check out granorfarm.com for more information about their farm stand, farm visits, their booth at the Farmer’s Market, and other programs.