Employees paint a more colorful Fermilab with gardening tools

Take a look around and you’ll likely catch a glimpse of Fermilab beautification efforts. Photo: Ed Dijak, PPD

Many years ago a Fermilab employee planted a baby spruce tree in a garden plot he had rented from the Fermilab Garden Club. When the sapling became too big for the 20-by-40-foot plot, Roads and Grounds helped him replant the tree, which now is a towering 20 feet tall, in the Fermilab Village.

Fermilab’s garden plots, which are available to all Fermilab employees for an annual fee, are one of many efforts on laboratory grounds through which employees are exercising their green thumbs. Another effort can be seen right outside PPD technical specialist Ed Dijak’s office window at 31a Blackhawk – a site that was recently featured in a Photo of the Day.

After Fermilab’s Roads and Grounds granted Dijak and a group of his fellow work colleagues permission to plant, the group grew over a dozen varieties of flowering plants they provided themselves. Now, the once bare ground around 31a Blackhawk is a collage of vibrant yellows, reds, purples and more.

“It’s part of beautifying the lab, but it’s also an outlet,” said Dijak. “After sitting in the office a while, you need to get up, move around and get your mind out of the monitor of your computer. And for our group, we just walk out the front door and we have flowers and birds.”

Moreover, the plants on Blackhawk are low-maintenance, so the only real work is breaking up the soil for seeds, which is well worth the effort, said PPD Assistant Head for Technical Support Karen Kephart.

“People feel a sense of ownership for a place they’ve helped build,” she said. “It makes them a group and gives them some pride in things.”

Outlets like these are also good for personal morale, Dijak said. Dijak and his group have provided many people with seeds from their garden so that others may brighten their own surroundings, whether at work or home.

Anyone interested in joining or starting their own gardening effort at Fermilab should contact Roads and Grounds first for help in assessing locations.

Jessica Orwig