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Feb 17, 2015

Caesars’ Community Crop: Employee Gardens Spring Up Across the Country

by Aimee Dizon

Did you know that several Caesars casinos and resorts across the country have a garden onsite? These gardens provide fresh produce to the restaurants and employees, and produce is sold to local communities to raise money for CodeGreen and HERO events. The gardens, which are maintained by our employees, bring together employees from different departments to learn about how to grow and manage organic produce, while also educating them about environmental practices and the benefits of cultivating of fresh, locally grown produce. These employee gardens have become a fun, engaging experience that is not only building a strong employee culture, but also promoting CodeGreen efforts that are making a positive impact in local communities.

The benefits of a community garden are endless – from reducing environmental footprint by not having produce transported long distances, to eating healthy chemical-free produce and creating camaraderie amongst co-workers.

We recently sat down with Caesars CodeGreen property leaders across the country who provided us with some food for thought (pun, intended) in growing a successful employee garden:

  • PLAN AHEAD: Horseshoe Tunica Code Green leader and marketing manager, Trudy Pfisterer, shares that the key to success is proactively planning. The CodeGreen team comes together as early as January to plan out the garden layout and crops for each season. Doing so, allows the Tunica CodeGreen team to stay organized and enjoy the garden all year.
    Harrah's Southern California keeps their garden fun with quirky herb labels.

    Harrah’s Southern California keeps their garden fun with quirky herb labels.

  • IT’S A COLLABORATIVE PROCESS: At Harrah’s Southern California, CodeGreen leader and facilities manager, Brendan O’Kane, has been able to sustain employee engagement through collaboration with different departments. Chefs weigh in on which crops works best for them. Then conversations with the grounds crew helped them design a garden was easy to manage and resourceful, repurposing old doors to build planter boxes. Last year, the Harrah’s Southern California CodeGreen team grew zucchini, eggplant, cucumbers, watermelon, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, and mint.
  • BE REALISTIC ABOUT TIME AND CLIMATE: For Harrah’s Metropolis, building their first employee garden last May was a great learning experience. Located next to the guest entrance, the employee garden is a sixty square foot wooden planter box filled with ten pots of vibrant herbs, pepper plants, and tomatoes. CodeGreen leader and facilities manager, Stephanie Jacobsen, shares that it is critical to be realistic about the climate and time constraints. In the first year, Metropolis employees learned the importance of using the correct soil type and plant selection. Utilizing a soil that would not dry out quickly and plants that were low-maintenance allowed employees to balance day-to-day responsibilities and garden upkeep.
Horseshoe Hammond comes together to "grow food so that others may eat".

Horseshoe Hammond comes together to “grow food so that others may eat”.

In addition to providing an engaging way to learn about sustainable gardening practices, our property gardens have also given employees the ability to give back to their local communities. In 2014, Horseshoe Hammond sold their harvested produce to employees and raised approximately $600 for the Northwest Indiana Foodbank. We are so proud of the initiative our properties have taken to engage their employees and come together to raise money for charitable causes. We look forward to expanding our efforts in 2015 and will continue to share the great work from our employees.

Does your company have a community garden? We would love to hear about your experience in growing a community garden. Also, please share some additional tips on how employees can collaborate and start building their own workplace community gardens.