A South Dakota company known for promoting green energy is apply its green thumb for a good cause. A bountiful harvest at Poet will help feed hungry families.
About 60 Poet workers have been growing everything from corn to pumpkins to peppers to zucchini in the garden behind their corporate headquarters in Sioux Falls. One of the ground rules of the garden is that part of the harvest goes to the Food to You mobile pantry.
Leave it to Poet's Data Systems Administrator to put the geek in gardening.
"Being a computer person here, I designed the layout using an Excel spreadsheet so we had some math and quick programming tools to be able to lay it out in the most efficient way," Poet Data Systems Administrator Scott Johnson said.
But the garden has grown far beyond the spreadsheet stage. Poet employees have been tending their plots during lunch breaks and after work.
"I am not the most diligent weeder as some of my co-workers, but I get out here about once a week and have been harvesting a couple times a week for about the last two weeks," Poet Corporate Trainer Kirsten Walrath-Noem said.
Not everything in the garden is for eating. This tall grass here, that looks a lot like corn, could one day power the engine in your car. It's an energy crop planted by the Poet gardeners.
"Some methscanthus, so grasses that might eventually be used for producing ethanol, so we thought it'd be fun to have a test plot for that," Johnson said.
A company that relies so much on agriculture wants to share its harvest with the hungry. Each week, the Poet gardeners donate a portion of their produce to the Food to You Mobile Pantry.
"We're proud to participate. But we realize that it's really only putting a small dent in that need and so it encourages us to do more and see what more we can do to help out," Johnson said.
"Eating healthy and buying everything is so expensive. And so having the ability to do that here, organically, in the backyard where I work is great," Walrath-Noem said.
The Poet gardeners hope their harvest will plant the seeds of inspiration in other corporations to give to hungry families by offering them the pick of the crop.
The Poet workers are already planning another garden for next year, one they hope will be even bigger. They say this spring's cold, wet start to the growing season did not hurt their harvest.