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Excel Employees Share Passion for Gardening

Cuyler Thomas (Parts Prep Technician) started gardening with his grandparents when he was about 4 years old. He said he immediately developed a love for it, and commented, “It’s always been a passion of mine. I love the outdoors and I was taught at an early age to recognize the trees and learned how to care for a garden.” He had an idea to start a garden here at Excel. After speaking with fellow employees, Keith Friedrich (Inspection Technician – who has an extensive farming background), Jeff Kleiber (Machine Shop Manager), Jeremy Greer (Quality Engineer), and Jared Shay (Shipping Coordinator), a simple conversation developed into an idea with “bountiful” potential for Excel employees.

Excel helped with the expenses to get the garden started, and also provided the mulch, which consists of recycled shredded paper from various departments. To date, seven varieties of tomatoes, six varieties of peppers, three varieties of cucumbers, green beans, zucchini, sweet corn and radishes have been planted. Cuyler stops by each morning at 6am to ensure the proper nutrients and water are distributed. A watering system has been devised for the garden, but it also serves as one of its biggest challenges. Keith Friedrich also mentioned that wildlife is an ongoing security issue. He stated, “Animals know when you’re going to pick your fruits and vegetables. The raccoons are the worst. Raccoons and sweet corn just stir up trouble.”

The long term goal of this garden venture is to provide Excel’s employees with a variety of healthy foods at no expense. Keith says that “people don’t know what they’re missing if they don’t eat food straight from the garden.” Employees will also be pleased to know that no food will go to waste, as Excel will donate remaining food to a local food pantry or charity.

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