Unilabs’ garden

Promoting health and well-being, inside and out.

Unilabs Porto, a European leader in medical diagnostics, found itself on the front line during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To improve its employees’ well-being and to tangibly act towards sustainable development goals, the company transformed its two unused terraces into Noocity gardens. Its harvests are donated to a humanitarian organization in Porto.

Noocity garden

Promoting health and well-being, inside and out.

The Noocity garden, affectionately renamed UniHorta (“Uni Garden” in English), was installed in two different areas of the third floor of Unilabs’ Porto office. Diana Pinto, in charge of the project, explains that the pandemic made it essential to bring a breath of fresh air to the offices, which pushed them to install the garden. “We wanted to give a new life to the outdoor spaces, to be able to more easily respect social distancing guidelines.” They had pictured a garden and imagined adding plants, and then they decided to go even further and transform the outdoor space into an area for team activities, “because there are employees in all different teams, and we thought it could be interesting to offer them group activities, for example during lunchtime.

Filipa Almeida, the Noocity Grower in charge of garden maintenance and entertainment, has already noticed that several of the participants consider the garden to be a “space to calm the mind.” At Unilabs, the possibility of working from home is slim and the offices are almost always full — it was crucial to improve the well-being of employees working on site by allowing them to connect with nature. “More than just a garden, it’s a transformation process,” says Diana. “Noocity does a lot more than just setting up the garden beds. It’s a comprehensive experience that uses the garden to introduce more responsible and sustainable habits.”

A concrete example is the collaboration between Unilabs and GASPORTO, a neighboring non-governmental organization. The garden’s entire harvest is passed on to the “Abraço Amigo” project, which supports elderly people in isolation. Filipa considers that to be “the most inspiring and distinguishing aspect of the project: to help Unilabs produce food for those in need.”

“In the future, we’d like the connection between the elderly community and our team to be even stronger,” says Diana Pinto. “We’d like them to come visit the garden, or even become part of the team that delivers the harvests.” The feedback from those who receive the vegetables has always been positive: they find the products fresh and flavourful. The new crops were planted according to their requests and preferences. There is a true exchange between the two parties, making the project all the more enriching.

Diana Pinto finds that the UniHorta garden has encouraged healthy habits not only within the company, but also outside of it. “I know of at least three employees who have bought garden boxes for themselves or as gifts.” The goal is to keep installing gardens in several of the company’s 1000 sites in Portugal, in order to follow the Green Motion sustainability initiatives promoted by Unilabs. There’s no doubt in Diana’s mind: “in addition to creating a charming, welcoming space in the office, the gardens allow employees to take home new, healthy habits.”

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Find out how the Noocity’s Ground Yourself Program helps your company with starting the ecological transition.

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