The SAP Kitchen Garden began in 2012 after Bon Appétit Executive Chef Melissa Miller approached SAP management with the idea for an educational garden. They hired a part-time gardener, built twelve raised beds approximately 6 ft. x 3 ft. x 2 ft. in size, and constructed a couple of beehives, too. While not directly in sight of the campus café, the garden is located only a short walk away behind one of the SAP buildings.
The garden’s mission is to increase awareness and appreciation for the seasonal and local produce prepared in the café. Melissa says she knew the idea was a win-win for the café and the company: the garden would not only provide local produce and herbs for the café, but also provide a workplace amenity not available at all Silicon Valley employers.
The garden’s limited size means the amount it produces can’t really make a dent in the café’s purchasing needs. But Melissa says they make the most of the space by growing produce that may be unfamiliar to guests. Growing crops such as kohlrabi and chicory allows SAP associates to experience new flavor profiles while keeping menus fresh and exciting.
Melissa encourages those dreaming of starting a campus garden to be upfront about annual funding needs. Maintaining the beds, buying seeds, and hiring a part-time gardener all come with a price tag. In the case of the SAP Kitchen Garden, the operational costs are higher than the value of the ingredients that comes out of it. Still, with a few growing seasons under their belt, the team is confident the garden’s benefits to the SAP community far outweigh its relatively small financial cost.