It is no secret that the expectations for office spaces are changing. As work environments continue to blur the lines between work and play, property managers and building engineers alike must consider new and innovative ways to attract tenants and their talent.
The newest trend in both office spaces and multi-family residences is urban farming. With outdoor green space being a common request from tenants, it is a natural step for property managers to begin placing rooftop gardens or farming plots around their property. The set-up is fairly simple, and often, there may be a committee or tenant that volunteers for upkeep.
The trend was inspired by large corporations like Google and Facebook making large structural changes to what was considered an office environment. Their campuses involved lots of outdoor space, multiple places for employees to relax from work and urban farming initiatives. As this trend has proliferated through the country, it is beginning to become a common request from potential tenants.
What might a typical setup look like for a property?
It all depends on your space. Gardening isn’t possible without the right conditions, so finding an open spot with sun on the property is key. Many multi-family spaces have used rooftops, but other office spaces have used vertical towers, courtyards or even areas just outside their door.
Most urban farmers use raised beds that are wooden boxes filled with soil rather than digging directly into the dirt. This allows for control of the soil and keeps the garden organized. Having a committee or designated gardener manage the upkeep of the garden will ensure longevity and keep stress off a maintenance team. A drip system for watering will also make the garden more self-sustainable and less of a hassle.
If an owner or property management team is seeking to avoid the operational burden of creating and maintaining an urban farming setup, they can still offer this tenant amenity by employing a firm that specializes in urban farming for commercial businesses. All commercial businesses must do is provide the space. These third parties will then provide a turnkey solution that handles all the upkeep, maintenance and harvesting of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs.
With health and wellness being important topics to office employees, office gardens and urban farming are a great way to attract new tenants. The opportunity to purchase fresh vegetables and establish a sense of community through a shared space is something that can separate your space from the pack.
From a property management professional’s perspectives, this is a low-cost, low-upkeep way to add value to a property. It may even be a great opportunity for a green-thumbed team member to be a leader in a project.