Romain Balmary (Strategy & Corporate Finance, 2013) cofounded “Ciel mon radis”, a company implementing gardens in business open spaces and roof tops. Originated from the Lot area in France, and Charles, his partner, from the Vendée area, they both felt the need for greenery when working in Paris’s business district, La Défense, and decided to turn their passion into a business… Since then, in their office garden, they grow basil, cherry tomatoes and edible flowers. A daylight lamp is integrated allowing plants to grow in the middle of the office. For staff members, gardening becomes a recreational activity very much compatible with a coffee-break. Interview.
Is “Ciel mon radis” a young sprout?
Indeed, “Ciel mon radis” grew in our minds when, after graduating from emlyon business school, we started our career at La Défense in Paris. We craved for greenery, and little by little we fell head overs heels for gardening as we grew tomatoes and radishes on our friends’ balconies. We soon wanted to start our own business, so we teamed up with Constance, an architect, and put together the first office vegetable garden.
A growing business
This is a burgeoning market. Mindsets have changed and today, top executives are the ones who want to implement gardens on their business sites. It creates a refreshing environment and helps bring staff members together. We work with well-implanted start-ups, as well as major groups. We can landscape entire terraces, office space, or cafeterias.
You are also selling what you call « team growing »…
Indeed, gardening offers working virtues. Pairs team up to tend the garden, new encounters are made, thereby generating team building. A newsletter on the life of the garden is edited every three months, feeding the company’s internal communication.
The company goes apple picking
We do not measure the impact of gardening on staff productivity, but most surely, after 1 hour with their hands in the dirt, staff members are blooming with de-connection and are ripe for a fresh start. Additionally, for businesses, it is a means to facilitate information flows, acting as a “village square”, and providing educational benefits: people try to grow their own garden once at home thereby reconnecting with season cycles as they watch the garden change throughout the year. Our office gardens are not for edible purposes, it is more about discovering biodiversity: lemon basil, cinnamon basil, chocolate mint, edible flowers with a passion fruit flavor, red, yellow and green tomatoes. Our varieties of vegetables are all organic and we work exclusively with local horticulturists.
Has gardening replaced coffee-break?
Both can be done at the same time. At least, it helps improving staff’s well-being; they can enjoy a break in a green and relaxing environment.