10 Country: Buddy's Gift Garden - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

10 Country: Buddy's Gift Garden

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July 16, 2002

Employee benefits such as vacation time, health, dental and life insurance, rank highly with working people. But one South Georgia company providing a benefit we have never heard of. The benefit doesn’t cost the employee anything, except a little time.

Just about every afternoon you can always find Dennis Collier and Rusty Rugg picking vegetables after work. “It doesn’t take long to fill up a bucket out here.” A vegetable lover’s dream come true with okra, squash and not one, but two types of corn and peas.

“I’ve done this before, but I don’t want my wife to know too much about it.” Buddy Bryan often joins them. He came up with the idea of a garden for his employees. “We got a lot of very dedicated employees. It was for a good reason.”

Many of the company employees wanted a vegetable garden, but since they work out of town for an extended period of time, it wasn’t feasible for them to have one. So, the company president decided to plant one for them.

“I bought a sack of corn seed. just kept planting and kept going.” The ground produces a lot of veggies for the 80 employees of Utilco.

Rusty Rugg estimates the company vegetable garden saves his family of three about $100 a month on his grocery bill. Plus, he finds these vegetables better than what he could buy in a grocery store. “You know where they come from. Who has had their hands on them.”

It doesn’t cost the employees anything, a free company benefit with modest conditions. “They got to pick it. I won’t pick it for them.” They can’t pick the vegetables on company time either.

Dennis Collier remembers when he first heard of the idea of a company garden. “I thought it was going to be a small place. I didn’t think it would be this large. I wound up with a 30-acre garden.”

Thirty acres, complete with its own brand spanking new irrigation system ready to provide water for thirsty plants for years to come. “Everybody has enjoyed it so much I’ll just continue it through the summer and fall.”

A healthy benefit that can leave a good taste in your mouth about who you work for. The Company has employees working in west Texas and in Canada, and when they get home, they’ll find fresh vegetables ready for them.