The Washington Post

National Geographic employees get local groceries at on-site farm stand

Organization: National Geographic Society.

Location: The District.

Employees: 1,239 locally; 1,347 nationwide.

Every Tuesday, Julie Crain takes home an armful of fresh local produce. At this time of year as the season turns, she’s snapping up the last tomatoes, corn and berries of summer and getting fall’s first harvest of pumpkins, squash and root vegetables.

And to get all these healthy groceries, she need not leave her office. Crain is an employee of National Geographic Society, and she gets to shop at a farm stand that is set up each week at the organization’s downtown Washington headquarters.

Farmer Gregg Keckler hawks his produce from a small tent in the National Geographic Society’s courtyard. In addition to fruits and vegetables, he sells herbs, teas and homemade jams, breads and pies.

“He’s really spoiled me,” Crain said. “I don’t like to buy from the grocery store.”

Keckler originally partnered with National Geographic when the nonprofit wanted to start an agriculture share, in which employees can pay to receive a delivery of fruits and vegetables each week, with the offerings changing based on what’s in season.

A couple of years later, Keckler and his son came to an on-site fair at National Geographic to sell their food and to encourage more workers to join the agriculture share.

Susan Kolodziejczyk, an employee of National Geographic Channel, said that was when the idea for the weekly farm stand was born.

“[Staffers] kept asking, ‘When will you be back?’ The son said, ‘How about next week?’” Kolodziejczyk said.

Sodexo, the catering giant that manages National Geographic’s cafeteria, also works to incorporate food from the farm into the dishes it prepares for staffers.

Kolodziejczyk, a member of a committee at National Geographic that promotes sustainability, said the farm stand has been a powerful way to encourage staffers to eat in a way that is eco-friendly.

Sarah Halzack is The Washington Post's national retail reporter. She has previously covered the local job market and the business of talent and hiring. She has also served as a Web producer for business and economic news.



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