The outdoor apparel company, Keen, made its 10th birthday about giving rather than receiving.
The Portland, Ore. company recently donated $5,000 to Cannon Greens Community Garden on 1300 South in Salt Lake City. Keen partnered with Wasatch Community Gardens (WCG) to choose which Salt Lake area garden would receive the donation.
A decade ago, Salt Lake City witnessed the birth of Keen and its hybrid hiking shoe/sandal when it launched its product at the Outdoor Retailer show, which took place last week at the Salt Palace Convention Center.
WCG used the donation to improve the infrastructure and security at Cannon Greens, as well as to build raised garden beds raised high enough for people with wheelchairs to roll up and garden.
"A lot of the money went to beautifying the garden," said Jennifer Hamilton, the community garden coordinator at WCG. "We needed to get the community to see the garden as a gathering place."
Community gardens bring neighbors together by providing rentable plots where people grow their own food right next to their neighbors. But community gardens provide more benefits than rentable plots. Some gardens have "you pick" beds at the edges where people can get vegetables if they need to, and neighborhoods with community gardens generally have less crime.
"People are out and getting to know their neighbors," Hamilton said. "They watch out for each other."
Impressed by all Cannon Greens accomplished with the $5,000, Keen has started a community garden fund to help neighborhoods across the U.S build community gardens.
Customers can now buy Keen shoes for $20, and 100 percent of the money will go to the community gardens fund. Keen will reach out to fans via social media and use the feedback to decide how the funds will be spent.
Keen hosted a birthday party Wednesday night that allowed passersby to snack on tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash and salad greens grown in Cannon Greens.
"We wanted to do something special at [the 2013] show to thank Salt Lake City for what the city has done for the industry," said Lisa Balfour, the Keen marketing director.
"We think of the outdoors as any place without a ceiling," said Balfour. "[Community gardens are] the perfect place because people come together and do something great for themselves and the community."