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Until recently, the farm fields closest to DICKEY-john headquarters in Auburn, Illinois were only for testing agricultural tools and instruments that the company manufactures. That changed in 2013 after Jeff Schertz (Vice President - Auburn Operations) visited the Central Illinois Food Bank, a nonprofit that serves about 23 counties in the mid-state area.
Inspired by his experience, Schertz and some of his coworkers wanted to contribute to the food bank. They decided to use their free time and their Ag expertise to grow food.
On vacant land around the testing field and the company parking lot, they created 12 vegetable gardens, enough for a small team to manage. At harvest time, the employees had more than a ton of fresh produce to donate. That first harvest was the start of a new tradition at DICKEY-john. In 2014, a growing number of interested employees made it possible to cultivate six additional gardens. In 2016, they tacked on an acre of sweet corn.
This season, there are thirty DICKEY-john volunteers tending the eighteen gardens and cornfield, picking produce, and delivering the fresh vegetables to the food bank. Some employees also contribute produce from their home gardens.
DICKEY-john Safety Specialist and garden volunteer Patty Carrigan said, “The gardens mean a lot to employees. They give us a way to stay close to farm life and to connect with our coworkers, customers, and community.
"Between 2013 and 2018, we were able to give the food bank over 31,400 pounds of nutritious and healthy food. We’re all proud of it. It’s part of what makes DICKEY-john such a great place to work.”
Visit dickey-john.com to learn about DICKEY-john products for agriculture, research, and public works.