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Local company promotes wellness gardening

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FBMC gardens

By Tom Flanigan

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wfsu/local-wfsu-994569.mp3

Tallahassee, FL – There's a Tallahassee firm that doesn't mind if employees spend part of their work time digging in the dirt. In fact, as Tom Flanigan tells us, the company encourages it.

The company is FBMC Benefits Management. One of the benefits it manages for other companies is employee wellness programs. And FMBC practices what it preaches. So much so that Wellness Coordinator Glenda Atkinson says the firm has attracted national honors.

"We're one of the few companies in the nation that received a special work site innovation award and that's from the American Heart Association. And we received it because of our company garden that we put in here at our work site."

The garden consists of eight large beds and Atkinson says it's a year-round affair.

"Well we started in the spring and we did the Spring/Summer type vegetables tomatoes and okra and zucchini and squash and a big basil garden. And in September we planted our fall/winter garden and that has several varieties of greens it has cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, some of the winter hardy herbs."

This past Friday, she says there was a big harvest of turnip greens. They went to a local food bank on Saturday. But Atkinson says the real purpose of the FBMC corporate garden goes beyond charity.

"It's a teaching garden for employees. We modeled it on teach a man to fish.' We teach our employees how to garden so that they can go home, make their own vegetable gardens, and eat healthier at home."

Atkinson says gardens can also, you'll pardon the expression, "plant the seed" for healthier families.

"Children are more likely to eat vegetables that they helped to grow, so the children are eating more vegetables. And we even have a gentleman here who went and made his mother who's in her 80s a garden and now she's in her vegetable garden twice a day."

FBMC's garden isn't the first one in town, of course. In fact, urban gardening is, again pardon the expression, growing by leaps and bounds.

"It's really exciting and it is becoming so widespread and it's so gratifying to see that within our community. And especially with FBMC finding a way to take it to the next step and give back to the community through what we grow it's just brought a lot of satisfaction to our employees."

And if your company or organization would like some tips on starting your own vegetable garden, Glenda Atkinson over at FBMC would be a good contact to cultivate.