With people spending on over 42.2 hours a week at work* and many struggling to maintain a good work-life balance, the Royal Horticultural Society’s Grow Your Own Campaign returns this week, with a direct ask to businesses to support their staff to grow at work.

In a recent online survey** conducted by the RHS, 73% of respondents said they considered gardening to be a good way of unwinding from the pressures of work, while over half said if they had access to a workplace garden or allotment then they would regularly use it in which to grow their own food.

Gordon Seabright, Acting Director General of the RHS said, “Over the past three years, our Grow Your Own campaign has helped around three-quarters of a million people to experience the joys of home grown produce. By expanding our campaign to include businesses, we believe we’ll be helping to create a happier and healthier society. We know that gardening reduces people’s stress levels, is a physically beneficial activity and as such could help people to find a better work-life balance and in turn increase their productivity.

“We will be working with partner organisations to demonstrate how disused spaces in car parks, blank walls and forgotten corners, can be transformed into mini allotments for staff to enjoy. Our own staff will also be getting involved as they take over pieces of land in order to grow their own.”

First to join the RHS campaign is the nation’s largest suppliers of top quality books, The Book People. With its head office in Surrey, the company has already set up a workplace allotment used regularly by 15 members of staff. A success all round now means the scheme will be rolled out to its other sites in Bangor and Haydock.

Ted Smart, Founder of The Book People explains, “We decided to start our allotment scheme about 18 months ago by providing all the staff at our Godalming site with space in which to grow. It’s a pleasure to see people leaving their desks at lunch time to tend their pumpkins or courgettes and as one employee said to me the other day, ‘Everyone who comes back into the office after being at the allotment has a smile on their face and a glow to their cheeks’. In terms of supporting your staff I can’t recommend growing at work highly enough.”

Businesses are invited to sign up to the RHS campaign via an online ‘Fruit and Veg Pledge’ (www.rhs.org.uk/growyourown), with the first 50 receiving a free starter pack complete with Thompson and Morgan seeds, equipment, planting plans and recipe cards.

Individual gardeners and growers are also welcome to join this year’s campaign, with 10,000 starter packs also up for grabs. The RHS Grow Your Own micro site is packed full of advice and information for growers of all abilities, including what to grow in containers and pots if short on space; while the free monthly e-newsletter will help to keep people on track during the coming months. Throughout the year, the RHS will also be running a series of Grow Your Own days at its four Gardens; Wisley in Surrey, Hyde Hall in Essex, Harlow Carr in Yorkshire and Rosemoor in Devon. The first of the season will be held on 6th March 2010; free to RHS members and £1 to non-members.