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AEP Ohio employees harvest tomatoes, peppers

by on September 23, 2013
Chris Cooper (left) and Jesse McCain (right) hold some of the fruits of a small garden planted and tended by employees at the Glenwood Service Center in Columbus.

Chris Cooper (left) and Jesse McCain (right) hold some of the fruits of a small garden planted and tended by employees at the Glenwood Service Center in Columbus.

AEP Ohio Columbus Underground Network employees decided this past spring to try something different with their building’s exterior plantings, and like many great ideas, things started small, and grew.

The idea of planting a garden of tomatoes and peppers came from Jesse McCain, network mechanic A, who had purchased too many plants for the space in his own home garden. He asked Jeff Hicks, supervisor – distribution system, for permission to create a small garden in a space around a flag pole in the parking lot of the Glenwood Service Center that had previously been planted with flowers. Chris Cooper, network mechanic A, also donated some excess plants for the plot.

Both hot and sweet varieties of peppers have been planted in the tiny garden.

The reaction was enthusiastic. “Being mostly men, the majority of employees didn’t really appreciate the blooms,” said Hicks. “Things that can be eaten are more appreciated.”

The area is so small that it has taken very little extra time and effort to maintain, and weeds have not been a problem since the plants reached maturity, Hicks said. Birds ate the tops of the plants but they continued to grow, and more plants were also added.

The garden has grown several varieties of tomatoes including Big Boy and Better Boy, as well as Hungarian hot wax peppers and sweet banana peppers. The success of the effort was apparent quickly. In fact, you had to act fast to get a taste of the success.

“At first, the produce was picked and placed on a table inside, and whoever wanted some, took some,” Hicks said. “Now, it usually just kind of disappears off the plants.”

The group will be moving to a new facility in Grandview Heights, and employees are already looking forward to finding space for another garden plot for next year’s season.

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