In time for National Pollinator Week, The Giant Co. has completed a seven-acre pollinator-friendly solar field at its corporate headquarters in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. According to Giant, the initiative is the first of its kind for a grocer and creates a synergistic environment that contributes both to clean energy and support for bee and pollinator populations.
“From almonds to zucchini and countless fruits, vegetables and nuts in between, nearly one-third of our food supply depends on pollinators, making bees an essential part of our food supply chain and ecosystem,” noted Giant Co. President Nicholas Bertram. “A pollinator field provides us with a unique opportunity to educate our team members, customers and the community about the crucial role bees play in getting food onto their family’s table. For the Giant Co., healing the planet starts at home, so creating a pollinator habitat at our headquarters is a natural first step as we work to address the declining bee population.”
The company has also been chosen as the first grocer and inaugural Pennsylvania participant in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s InSPIRE study, in which scientists measure and track the performance of the pollinator-friendly ground cover for applications in future solar energy projects. As well as the benefits to plants, the new solar array, coupled with the one now in place on the roof of the Giant Co. headquarters, will reduce 4.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide in the environment and generate enough power for the entire building.
Native seed mixes from Meadville, Pennsylvania-based Ernst Conservation Seeds will act as a vegetative solution to beautify the site and provide valuable ecological functions. The native meadow established will create a habitat for pollinators, birds and other small wildlife while enhancing the quality of the soil beneath it, lessening runoff, and creating an attractive backdrop to the site. The field contains more than 20 varieties of wildflowers native to the northeast and central Pennsylvania, among them Butterfly Milkweed, Mountain Mint, Blue Mistflower and Golden Alexander.
Further, as part of its pollinator-friendly endeavors, the Giant Co. has revealed a new strategic partnership with Planet Bee Foundation, a San Francisco-based nonprofit organization focused on driving awareness for pollinators while creating environmental stewards of all ages, in turn contributing to the well-being of bees. To mark the new partnership and National Pollinator Week, The Giant Co. is donating $50,000 donation to the foundation.
“A single worker bee can accomplish a great deal, but only a hive that works together can create something amazing,” observed Debra Tomaszewski, Planet Bee’s executive director and co-founder. “Our world needs collaboration, partnership and synergy more than ever if we're going to make a difference in creating sustainable food systems. Planet Bee Foundation is thrilled to partner with the Giant Co. to support its Healing the Planetinitiative as we work together to promote sustainable systems and greener communities, one bee and one mind at a time.”
The foundation built the beehives for the Giant Co.’s field and will care for the colonies as the bees provide their essential pollinator services to the local ecosystem. Planet Bee is also helping the grocer develop educational signs that will be put up along the on-campus walking path to raise awareness of the importance of bees to the grocery and agricultural industries.
Honey bees pollinate $15 billion worth of food crops in the United States annually, but populations have been declining for more than three decades. Beekeepers across the country lost an estimated 40.7% of their honey bee colonies from April 2018 to April 2019, according to a recent nationwide survey conducted by the University of Maryland-led nonprofit Bee Informed Partnership.
Basedin Carlisle, Pa., the Giant Co. is an omnichannel retailer serving millions of customers across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. It has more than 33,000 associates supporting nearly 190 stores, 132 pharmacies, 105 fuel stations, and 125-plus online pickup hubs and grocery delivery service across hundreds of ZIP codes. The Giant Co. is a company of Ahold Delhaize USA, No. 11 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer's 2020 list of the top food retailers in North America.