A dedicated group of employees from Chase, led by Leepika Dhillon, Mike Murphy and Noel Smyth, are doing their part this growing season to make a difference and provide fresh, organic produce to Delawareans in need through an employee-run garden on the property of Chase’s Wilmington and Newark campuses.
The team of volunteers has been working hard since early spring preparing for the growing season. Now in their second year of growing, the team has increased growing capacity this season. Sixteen raised beds and six in-ground beds now line a plot of land on the Wilmington campus. The two campuses in Newark have expansive raised beds as well, including one set of beds on the top level of a parking garage.
Last year, the team harvested more than 900 pounds for the Food Bank. This year, they hope to double the amount.
As a company, Chase backs this initiative 100 percent, covering the costs of seeds, organic cypress wood, wire and screws for the construction of the raised beds and other needed materials.
“As employees, we have truly appreciated working in this beautiful setting here in Delaware. Being able to use this setting to grow food for those in need is even more rewarding for our employees and underscores JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to our local community,” said Chase Managing Director Courtney Smith Goodrich
Maintenance of the garden takes a true team effort. On average, 25+ regular volunteers tend to the garden. Planting, weeding, watering and harvesting are all regular tasks. Employees use lunch breaks and even visit on weekends to tend to the garden. The activity helps build a stronger sense of community at the workplace.
Mike describes himself as the group’s “brown thumb,” while Leepika is the group’s “green thumb.” Mike’s team handled construction of the raised beds at the Wilmington site, while Leepika and her team ensure that the beds are in tip-top shape. Build and garden teams volunteer at the two Newark sites as well.
“Anytime anyone asks me why the team does this work, I remind them that fruits and vegetables donated to the Food Bank are sometimes the only fresh foods kids in crisis receive,” said Murphy.
All of the plants in the garden were started from seeds at office windows. The garden features eggplant, peppers, strawberries, cauliflower, cabbage, peas, kale, cucumbers, beans, zucchini, okra, squash, tomatoes and more.
The team envisions an expanded garden in the years to come, and plans eventually call for fruit trees and beehives!
To learn more about produce donations to the Food Bank of Delaware, please click here.