We were excited to recently open our new staff ‘Wellbeing Garden’ at the Knauf UK & Ireland Head Office in Sittingbourne, built by re-using old materials and Knauf products.
The Knauf Wellbeing Garden was created from an idea in the company’s Sustainability Champions group, led by Product Manager Becky Newell and Customer Relationship Executive Zoe Wells and overseen by Sustainability Leader Lucy Hall.
Becky and Zoe recruited a team of volunteers from across the business and planned out the garden, working cross-functionally to deliver the garden project in time for the Knauf Futures event held in the garden on 1st September 2022.
Our retail partner Wickes Sittingbourne kindly donated some materials such as timber for a pergola, and gravel for a new path to ensure safe access for all staff. Working with distribution partner Nicholls, Knauf volunteers repurposed an old lorry curtain side to create a movable pergola cover, making sure staff can enjoy the garden whatever the weather.
The garden features an Aquapanel planter, made by Training Services Manager Chris Lee and his team, using offcuts of an SFS steel frame system, boarded with Aquapanel cement board outdoor, and rendered using render which was too close to its expiry date to sell. Old factory pallets and offcuts were also used to create benches and planters.
The wellbeing of local wildlife was also considered as part of the garden’s design as FSC birdhouses and bee hotels were purchased from RSPB. Wildflowers were also planted to encourage bees and butterflies, and a bird bath was installed.
Larger planters made from old wood will have vegetable and herbs grown by the staff for their own personal use. A composter will allow staff to deposit their food waste, while a new water butt will collect rainwater from the roof.
The garden was designed by staff and will be maintained by staff. Gardening is known to have positive impacts on mental health, and access to a garden can reduce stress. With staff working in two separate office blocks as well as the factory, the garden is was also designed to provide a space for staff to mix and relax at lunchtime.
Lucy Hall commented: “It was really heartwarming to see an idea that came from staff be realised by those members of staff, whilst bringing together volunteers from across the business, who may never have met before, to bring the garden to fruition.
“It was a fantastic team effort, and we really hope this space will provide an area of relaxation and togetherness for our staff every day, whilst also promoting the benefits of being in close contact with nature. It’s a very welcome addition to our head office space.”