Schnuck Markets, Inc
Schnucks Office Teammates Dig in to Create Urban Garden
Local Grocer Turns Local Grower
ST. LOUIS – In the back lot of their Lackland Road office park, double bordered by a concrete walkway and neat rows of parked cars, office teammates at Schnuck Markets, Inc. have cleared four patches of grass for an urban garden groundbreaking on Friday, March 19 at 11:30 a.m.
According to Schnucks Director of Food Education Kathy Gottsacker, the idea to plant a “salad bar” garden sprang from a number of new sustainability issues within the company. “Working toward building food expertise across the company, a team of people from all levels of the organization brainstormed the idea for a garden,” said Gottsacker. “We thought that planting, tending and harvesting produce for an office garden would be a great learning experience.”
Team leader Mark Blethroad, Schnucks director of sales promotion, says, “We are starting the project on a modest scale, but expect to see it expand going forward. At the very least, we hope the garden will not only provide tasty, sustainably grown produce for use in our corporate cafeteria, but also serve as a daily reminder of where the food we eat comes from.”
Schnucks is involved in sustainability efforts on many levels, but Blethroad said the best way to help teammates understand the importance of each of the ongoing initiatives was to actually grab shovels and get their hands dirty. “We certainly are planning to have some fun with this, but our goals are to provide tasty, fresh grown produce for our office cafeteria,” he said.
Schnucks Vice President of Produce Mike O’Brien anticipates that teammates will also gain a greater understanding of what it takes for farmers to bring quality produce to market. In the aftermath of the January freeze in Florida, some of these challenges are coming front and center as demand has exceeded the supply of Florida farmed produce such as tomatoes, green beans and corn on the cob.
“Schnucks produce buyers are privileged to work with a network of produce suppliers across the globe as well as more than 100 farmers local to the regions we serve,” O’Brien said. “We understand their struggle to get quality produce to our customers despite weather-related challenges that are completely beyond their control. The garden is being created in the spirit of the old war-time ‘victory gardens,’ and it’s a great way of educating our teammates on the growing process and why it’s important to our customers and to our business.”
Blethroad explained, “We will have four small, raised beds to start – two 6x10’ rectangles and two circles that are 6’ in diameter. We opted for separate beds to add visual interest and so that we could walk between them and have easy access to the center of any bed for harvesting. Over the course of the growing season, we’ll be planting a variety of fresh vegetables and herbs, including tomatoes, lettuce, peas, peppers, radishes, basil, dill and parsley to name just a few.”
Schnucks teammates are being invited to wear jeans on the day of the groundbreaking to celebrate the new venture and to support a local charity with a donation of $5. That money will go to Gardens-to-Tables – a charitable organization that provides nutritious and sustainably grown food, nutrition education and hands-on gardening opportunities to the students and families at Sigel Elementary and L’Ouverture Middle School in the St. Louis Public School District as well as Lalumier Elementary in Centreville, Ill. Gardens-to-Tables is the brainchild of Mildred Mattfeldt-Beman, chairperson and professor of Nutrition and Dietetics at the Doisy College of Health Sciences at St. Louis University.
Other successful urban gardens have been created at Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood and at Bowood Farms in the Central West End.
Founded in St. Louis in 1939, Schnuck Markets, Inc. operates 106 stores (including five Logli stores) and 103 pharmacies in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, Tennessee and Mississippi.
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