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How To Build Your Own Office Garden

Good Beer Folks, Esmee and Kristen came up with the idea of hosting Sprout Initiative: a staff planting party.

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They built an herb garden out of wood pallets and arranged all the materials so our staff could easily drop by and help contribute to our staff herb garden. We sat down with them for an interview so they could share their green living tips with readers and explain how you can build a pallet garden of your very own!

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Tell us a little about yourself!

Esmee: I’m a gbf with 5 years of experience in retail, events and promotions. In my spare time I’m a serial hobbyist with an impressive collection of half-learned musical instruments including a pretty spectacular children’s accordion; I have a deep love for hashbrowns, Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, choreographed dance routines and Connie Britton. 

Kristen: I’ve been working in the Retail, Events and Promotions department at Steam Whistle for 2 years and have been an active member of the Environmental Committee for the past year. In my spare time, I enjoy exploring Toronto’s vibrant arts and culture scene, attend local shows pretty regularly. I love brunch, chocolate-anything, travelling and patio season.   

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Kristen pictured left, Esmee right

Where did the idea behind SPROUT initiative come from? 

Esmee: Sprout was born out of a meeting of Steam Whistle’s environmental committee. Kristen and I were looking for ways to contribute to the company’s green initiatives and find sustainable practices that would engage the staff on a personal level. A community garden was an idea that had been floating around our department for a while, we loved the concept and decided to take action to make it happen. 

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Can you give us an idea of how readers can build a pallet garden of their own?

Kristen: Turning a pallet into a planter was a no-brainer when we were brainstorming designs, specifically because pallets are so accessible at the brewery. We then went straight to Pinterest and found photos like this and this. There was no real game plan on how to make the planters, but we did have a ton of wood, a positive attitude, and some tools from the Steam Whistle shop. If you’d like to make the planters that Esmee and I made, you can follow the steps below.

  1. Sand down entire pallet (use an electric sander, trust us).  
  2. Measure, cut and nail rectangular wood pieces to fit under the raised pallet slats. This will create a base for each shelf.
  3. Use chalkboard paint to cover the front of each shelf. It looks clean, plus you can customize and change labels as you please. Let dry.
  4. To make the planters stand up on their own, nail a piece of wood on either end of the planter for balance.
  5. Coat entire pallet with waterproof varnish to prevent rotting. Let dry. 
  6. Label herbs on your chalkboard shelves
  7. Grab your buddies and start planting! We planted our herbs in empty Steam Whistle cans. Alternatively, you can add the soil straight into the shelves.
  8. Keep in a sunny place and mist with water daily.

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What was the best part of the project?

Esmee: This past Saturday we had our first sign of life! A little Oregano sprout popped out of the soil and I stumbled across it while watering the garden. It was our project come to life in the most literal sense. It was so exciting.

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The pallet garden 2.5 weeks later growing strong!

What was the hardest part of the project?

Kristen: At first, building two large planters without any woodworking experience seemed pretty intimidating. The entire project was a whole lot of trial and error. However, we had some pretty hilarious moments through our struggles, such as finding our future pallet gardens next to the dumpster on our first day building, and attempting to open a wooden crate with a crowbar (we still don’t know how to work that thing). In the end, our efforts paid off and the challenge made it that much more rewarding when we completed them.

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What’s your favorite go-to healthy recipe or blog?

Esmee: I love lentils, they are packed with protein and so delicious. French lentils with garlic, onion, tomatoes, lots of cumin and curry powder are great on their own, as a side or as a topping for salads. I inherited that recipe from my mum who is an amazing cook, but I frequent several blogs as well. I’m currently obsessed with www.hotforfoodblog.com. It’s a vegan blog and while I’m not a vegan myself (I love cheese!) I think vegan cooking is great at finding inventive ways to cook veggies and in my opinion the more veggies the better! 

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Best spot to grab a healthy snack in TO?

Kristen: A few favourites include Kupfert & Kim, Fresh and Bareburger, who carries our Pilsner and graciously fuelled our planting crew with a delicious, sustainable dinner.

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Also special shout out to Shawn William Clarke and Vicky Houser for providing live music for our planting party!

Name a couple ways you both stay green

Esmee: I find one of the easiest ways to stay green is through your diet. I try to eat local, in-season produce and avoid foods with carbon-intensive production like red meat. Soon I’ll be cooking with homegrown herbs as well! 

Kristen: Cycling is at the top of my personal green initiatives. I also enjoy eating local, recycling and trading goods. I’m looking forward to building another pallet garden with Esmee for my own backyard this spring!