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Team Volunteer Day: A Garden Full of Radishes

The Radishes have had a crazy couple of months. With some of our team in Germany for a better part of the summer, a super busy August, and a week-long break from the office before Labor Day weekend, we needed a way to reconnect with one another.

Finding the Right Activity

As we begun our research, we knew there would be no shortage of fun activities for us to engage in as a team. To be honest, the tough part was choosing just one. Throughout our search to find that perfect activity, a couple things became clear:

  • Whatever we’d end up doing, it should be meaningful. A few of our ideas involved stuff like doing a paint & sip class or going on a kayaking tour. That stuff sounds like a blast, but we really wanted to do something that would help us give back to the Bushwick community, because for each of us Radishes it’s like our second home!
  • We had to be outside (soaking up summer the last days of summer). Brooklyn is beautiful in the summertime, but for any workaholic New Yorker it’s next to impossible to get outside to enjoy it. We knew that any time we’d spend as a group would have to be time spent outside, for our own sanity.
  • We wanted to spend some quality time together. We’re a pretty tight-knit group at Radish, but we hadn’t had much time to catch up with each other on a personal level in quite a while. Our team day had to be something that would facilitate facetime, conversation, and teamwork – not have us all independently doing our own thing.

We were scratching our heads for a while trying to figure out what we could do that would fit these criteria. Michelle, our phenomenal comms director, made a brilliant suggestion that we volunteer as a group at a nearby community garden called Know Waste Lands which is owned and operated by a local nonprofit called BK ROT.

BK ROT’s mission is twofold. First, they work to improve the neighborhood environment through compost collection and community outreach. Second, they fight social inequality by offering meaningful employment to local youths, who work as compost managers and as compost collectors, using bikes to collect buckets of organic waste and bring it back to Know Waste Lands to be turned into compost.

We were seriously impressed by BK ROT’s mission and we wanted to set up a volunteer event as quickly as possible. We reached out and before we knew it we were scheduled to go to the garden and do some hard labor!

The Big Day

After a week of anticipation, Friday afternoon finally rolled around. We we packed up our things, changed into our t-shirts and workboots, then strolled over to the Know Waste Lands community garden in the heart of Bushwick.

We met Renee, one of the Garden’s facilitators, and Domingo, BK ROT’s lead composter. They gave us a quick tour, set us up with some tools, and we got to work.

domingo's compost lesson
Domingo gave us a rundown on the compost process, and Adam (looking like a rock star) helped him with turning BK ROT’s compost piles
michelle and hege sifting
Michelle and Hege spent the afternoon sifting compost, removing  large particles that failed to break down
mark being a putz
Some of us got to help with weeding the garden and clearing paths
kelsey's garden sign
A couple of our designers painted signs to jazz the garden up a bit, and they turned out awesome
shimmy's garden sign
“Welcome to Paradise” indeed!

Why Your Company Should Volunteer

Radish Lab’s volunteer day wasn’t just good for BK ROT; it was good for us, too. We’re communicating more effectively, everyone’s been super productive, and you can almost feel the positive vibes flowing throughout the Radish office. Our vacation left us feeling relaxed and refreshed, but spending an afternoon volunteering together left us feeling energized and ready to take on anything.

A company-sponsored day of service can have tons of positive, long-term benefits for any organization. It leads to increased employee satisfaction, greater employee retention, and improves relations between the company and the community, which can lead to an improved public perception and increase brand loyalty. Heck, a 2010 study showed that companies whose employees engage in volunteering the most can expect to see a 19% annual rise in operating income!

If your company wants to coordinate its own team volunteer day, there are tons of resources online that can connect you to an organization looking for help. Organizations like VolunteerMatch and Idealist let you search for group volunteer opportunities with filters for location, time of day, and area of focus. For our fellow New Yorkers, there are also tons of volunteer opportunities to be found with the NYC Parks Department. But we’d also recommend just reaching out to local nonprofits to see if any of them are looking for a little help. You never know what sort of opportunities you’ll find, and it’s a great way to get to know your neighbors.

a garden full of radishes

We’re so grateful we got to help BK ROT out for an afternoon. Being able to connect with a group of passionate people who are doing incredible work in our very own neighborhood was extremely gratifying. We had a total blast, and we’ll totally be back in the garden soon!

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