I LUV being outdoors! When I helped start a community garden in an unused patch of space at Headquarters a few years ago, I knew that it would be a great way for me and my Fellow Employees to get outside and stay active in the mornings and during our lunch breaks.
But what started as a small garden has grown into an organic way (literally!) for Employees to connect with each other and with the local community. While the garden produces a harvest like potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions, and herbs, it also serves as a way for Southwest Employees a way to learn and teach each other about gardening. We offer information sessions for Employees every few months on topics ranging from rainwater harvesting to composting—transforming the garden into an outdoor classroom. Now, dozens of Employees regularly plant and maintain the garden, and many Departments have “adopted” their own beds, including Network Planning, Maintenance, Revenue Management, and Ground Operations.
The garden gives back to us through education, and it also gives back to our nearby communities. All of the food harvested from the garden is donated to local area food banks, including the food pantry at Metrocrest Social Services near Dallas Love Field. The last time I dropped off a donation at Metrocrest, I met an employee whose daughter works for Southwest Airlines. He was so excited to hear about the garden and pleased that our Company garden is helping his cause. It feels great to know that because of this garden, we can give back to our local community, help alleviate urban poverty, and make valuable connections with local organizations that do so much to help those in need.
I’m glad that I’ve been able to share my passion for gardening with my Fellow Employees. While our community garden is a relatively small operation, it has built a mighty community of learning and service among Southwest Employees. And there’s so much more we can do! I’m already thinking about how we can expand in the future like increasing our composting capacity and maybe even build a greenhouse. After all, this garden has already proved that growing delicious food can be accomplished inexpensively and effectively with the help of busy hands and plenty of Servant’s Hearts.
This summer, consider getting involved with a community garden. Besides benefitting physically from spending time outside, you’ll learn how local food production can positively impact your community and yourself. Who knows what new relationships and skills you’ll grow?