GM’s Urban Garden Project is the Bee’s Knees

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GM’s Urban Garden Project is the Bee’s Knees

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.@GM's urban garden produced 187 lbs. of vegetables, 65 lbs. of honey and touched all of GM's sustainability goals.

Multimedia from this Release

After removing the honey combs from the hives, beekeeper Francois Faloppa gently scraped the combs to release the honey.

After the honeycombs were punctured to release the honey, they were placed into a honey extractor. This centrifuge spun around, forcing the honey off the comb.

Four honey combs fit into this honey extractor, which was spun with a crank. The quick rotation removed the honey from the combs.

The honey left the extractor through a spout and passed through two filters.

Faloppa jarred 65 pounds of honey, which was sold to GM tenants for a suggested donation of $10.

Faloppa prepared the beehives for the winter by adding insulation and a repurposed plastic shipping tray from GM's Kokomo Operations facility in Indiana. These trays serve as shelves for the bees to cling to inside the insulated boxes.

John Bradburn, GM's global manager of waste reduction, demonstrated how the repurposed shipping tray will act as a shelf for the bees inside of the now-insulated hives.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015 - 1:05pm

CAMPAIGN: GM Resource Preservation


When the rooftop garden at the parking garage adjacent to GM’s world headquarters gets started each summer, tenants inside the Detroit skyscraper watch the transformation of a once-empty section of the garage blossom into an ever-growing green space. The addition of honeybee hives helped pollinate the gardens, and now GM manufacturing scrap is providing insulation in the bees’ winter homes.  

This robust urban gardening initiative, which produced 187 pounds of vegetables this year, touches on all of GM’s 2020 sustainability goals – from supporting wildlife habitats and advancing our landfill-free program to providing outreach to the communities where we live and work. Here’s how:

  • Landfill-free: We tripled the garden’s size by adding 32 more steel shipping crates from our Orion Assembly Plant. Repurposed as raised garden beds, the crates are filled with organic compost from local startup Detroit Dirt. RenCen restaurants provided Detroit Dirt with 40 tons of food preparation scraps and coffee grounds this year. This ongoing composting effort helps improve upon the GM RenCen’s landfill-free status – one of 122 such GM sites worldwide. Next to the garden beds are four scrap Chevrolet Volt battery covers converted into butterfly habitats.
  • Community outreach: Andiamo Detroit restaurant used the garden’s vegetables to create farm-to-table dishes. In turn, the owner then made a donation equal to the food’s value to the Saints Peter and Paul Warming Center across the street that provides hospitality services to impoverished and homeless citizens.
  • Biodiversity and habitat enhancement: We worked with a company called the Honey Bee Squad to add two beehives on the roof to further support pollination. Thanks to the bees, the garden produced golden Detroit honey in addition to buckets of tomatoes, beans and peppers.

    As temperatures began to drop in October, beekeeper Francois Faloppa prepared the hives for winter so they wouldn’t be affected by harsh winds rolling off the Detroit River. A key part of that insulation process were plastic shipping trays from our Kokomo Operations facility in Indiana. This part fit perfectly as a shelf the bees can cling to inside the insulated boxes where they’ll live for the winter. Faloppa previously bought wired mesh for this purpose, so the shipping tray application eliminates a waste stream and the need to source new materials.

    Faloppa harvested about 65 pounds of honey, now available in jars for GM employees in exchange for a suggested donation of $10, which will then go the Warming Center.

  • Energy and carbon: By repurposing shipping materials and decreasing the need to buy brand-new garden planters, we’re reducing both energy and emissions.

While the natural heat of the sun will keep the bees comfortable in their boxes throughout winter, the RenCen will also keep warm from a renewable energy source. An underground pipeline attached to the building delivers process steam made from solid city waste from nearby Detroit Renewable Energy that heats and cools the building.

And although the RenCen’s urban gardens may lie dormant for the next several months, the 12,000 people working at the facility will keep on buzzing.  

Keywords: Social Impact & Volunteering | Andiamo Detroit | Detroit | Environment | GM | GM headquarters | General Motors | Renaissance Center | Saints Peter and Paul | The Honey Bee Squad | beekeeper

CAMPAIGN: GM Resource Preservation