REA Group Limited is a multinational, digital advertising company, specialising in property. They’ve come a long way since starting out 20 years ago in a garage in Doncaster, in the Eastern Suburbs of Melbourne
REA Group Sustainability Team
The sustainability team at REA Group recently contacted Leaf Root & Fruit to ask for assistance in establishing some edible gardens around the office. The aim of the project was to enrich the office and provide herbs, fruit and veggies for staff. A large focus was to be on the seasonality of edible produce.
There are many reasons for growing edibles in the office. During the implementation, I was interviewed by Alice Bradley from realcommercial.com.au for an article on growing edibles in the office. Alice has summed it up very well, so I won’t go and rehash it here.
The sustainability team at REA group are doing some amazing things. For example, during their induction program staff are asked to work in a team environment and assemble flat pack furniture. This furniture is then donated to persons in need, such as victims of domestic violence. What a fantastic program!
REA Group Office Space
REA Group headquarters are located in Church Street, Richmond. They occupy three floors in an amazing office space. Mostly open plan, the décor is very funky, with break out meeting rooms, stylish couches, and even a foosball table and pinball machines! It reminds me, of the Google offices, that are often featured in the media. There is an incredible vibe about the REA Group’s office. I couldn’t help but notice the enthusiasm and energy of the staff working there – quite a contrast to my own previous corporate office days!
The REA Group website states: “Knowledge, collaboration, connection and creativity are the currency at REA Group and we believe our competitive advantage comes from engaging the passion and creativity of each and every one of our employees.” As an outside observer, I can see that these words are definitely being put into practice.
The Office Edible Gardens
We installed 10 wicking bed planters in the kitchen area, of the office space known as “The Hub”. Positioned against floor to ceiling, north-facing windows, the garden beds receive plenty of natural light.
The first wicking beds were originally designed for use in Ethiopia. They aim to increase food production, while using approximately 50% less water than conventional garden beds. Think of them as a giant self-watering plant pot. Water is drawn up into the soil via capillary action from a reservoir, in the bottom of the wicking bed. These wicking beds need to be watered far less frequently than standard garden beds.
Wicking beds have come a long way since their original design. The standalone units that we install, do not need to be connected to any fancy irrigation systems and have a drip tray. This makes them ideal, for use in indoor spaces such as here in The Hub. Staff are encouraged to become “hands-on” with our edible garden by tending and watering it. The garden beds come with an inbuilt water level indicator. When the water reservoir is full, the water level indicator will sit upright revealing the green walls of the indicator. Conversely, when you see the indicator lower to become flush with the top surface, the water reservoir is low so it’s time to add water. These garden beds are (almost) fool-proof!
We’ve planted out the wicking beds with seasonal herbs and veggies. The concept is, that staff can harvest the produce, to use in their lunches, or take home to use in meal preparation for family and friends.
Balcony Fruit Trees
There are many balconies around the REA Group office space. We planted ten fruit trees in re-purposed Ecokegs and have located them around the building, particularly on the north side.
Ecokegs are designed as a single use, low-cost, recyclable-plastic, bulk beverage container. Ecokegs are a Melbourne based innovation. Their size and shape make them ideal for re-purposing into fruit tree planters.
We planted a variety of fruit trees, that should provide fruit for 6 months of the year. The seasonal blossoming, fruiting and dropping of leaves all tie back to the theme of “seasonality”. Staff will be able to watch the fruit trees, as they progress through these cycles and be provided with incentives to get up from their desks, to observe and interact with the trees.
I’ll be heading back regularly to the REA group office to tend the edible gardens. We hope that the staff will become more involved with gardens, and that I will be able to step back into a more supporting role. I’m really looking forward to seeing the gardens flourish with many more benefits to the staff, than simply producing healthy, tasty food!
Do you grow edibles in your workplace? If so, drop us a line, were always keen to hear about exciting projects such as this one at REA group.