Building Community ‘From the Ground Up’

Urban Garden Project Digs Deep into Corporate Social Responsibility

Among the first projects of Innisfree Hotels’ corporate social responsibility program, The Hive, is a sustainable community garden in the heart of Pensacola. This is the story of how our garden grows.

Our founder and CEO Julian MacQueen and his wife, Kim, are always looking for new ways to shape the communities where we live and work. You could say they’re hungry for new projects … those that will make life better for people, and teach them something in the process.

So in the spring of 2015, the City of Pensacola and Mayor Ashton Hayward entrusted Innisfree with a tract of land. Next, we hired a soulful and knowledgeable gardener we met through a connection with Dan Dunn, Executive Chef at the Hilton Hotel on Pensacola Beach. A few weeks of hard labor later, we had a garden ready for planting. Project leader Catherine McCreery is overjoyed at the possibility her new job brings. A seasoned gardener who specializes in heirloom seeds passed down through generations of her family, she looks forward to educating the community about growing healthy, organic fruits and vegetables – foods that not only sustain the body, but give people purpose and, in turn, help them grow.

“We have a real opportunity here and a responsibility,” McCreery says. “These seeds need to be preserved, and so does the act of gardening.”

Innisfree Hotels is committed to funding the not-for-profit ‘From the Ground Up’ garden in its initial two phases. In the third phase, the produce will be sold at local farmer’s markets and to restaurants to generate revenue to sustain the garden financially and provide paid jobs in an underserved community.

Phase One, the first summer garden is now thriving. Volunteers came out of the woodwork and helped Innisfree volunteers transform an abandoned, neglected plot of land into a beautiful garden in less than a month. We have done the digging. Now is the time to fertilize and water. To be patient. To let the seeds and the earth do the work.

We launched public gardening times. This is a ‘Reap What You Sow’ garden which means if you spend time working and learning in the garden you will be paid in veggies. Everyone is welcome – all ages.  Spread the word!

To learn more about our community gardening project or to get involved, please contact Chief Marketing Officer Jill Thomas at [email protected].