Down on the Farm: One Robert Half Employee's Sustainability Story

By Robert Half on January 17, 2020 at 11:20am

Commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship can take many forms. For Robert Half Technology branch manager Kimberly Bean, keeping it “green” means living and working on her family’s 17-acre farm, Gravity Farms LLC.

“It’s a residential farm, small compared to neighboring farms and cooperatives,” said Bean, of her location just outside of Madison, Wisc. “We’re not in it to make a profit, though. We do sell our organic, soy-free eggs at the local farmers markets, but the fruits and vegetables we grow are for ourselves and our neighbors.”

This rural lifestyle is a relatively new endeavor. Four years ago, Bean and her husband realized their lifelong dream to run a farm. Without any previous agricultural experience, the family of seven has figured it out along the way.

“We have five boys, ranging from 7 to 25 years old. Before we moved, we found ourselves trapped in that cycle of eating out up to five times a week, which wasn’t the healthiest of habits. Plus, it was important to us that our boys understood where food comes from.”

For Bean, learning to run a farm was like starting a new job. “There are parallels between when I joined Robert Half 16 years ago and getting up to speed on sustainable agriculture,” she said. “It can be overwhelming in the beginning, but if you observe and follow those around you, eventually you’ll get to the point where you can establish your own best practices.”

Two of those best practices have turned out to be planning and finding balance. Raising a family, managing a property with an organic orchard and garden, and caring for at least eight different types of animals — while working full time in our office — would be impossible otherwise.

“My career with Robert Half enables me to pursue this dream,” she said. “Many other companies don’t have the same philosophy of environmental stewardship or work-life balance.”

It’s a lot to juggle: besides all the fruits and vegetables, Gravity Farms raises 13 cattle and 90 chickens, in addition to the other animals that live on the property.

But since their move to the farm — which one of their sons named after "Gravity Falls," the Disney cartoon series on television — the family’s knowledge and appreciation of organic, sustainable farming has grown. They’ve learned what plants can best survive long Wisconsin winters and how to humanely raise animals. But the greatest benefit to Kimberly has been seeing her sons act more independently.

“The difference is night and day,” Bean said. “They get up and go through their routines on their own. Meal decisions have also improved. This experience has given them insight into the food chain and how to make healthier choices.”

Not feeling farm-ready? There are plenty of other ways to make a difference without taking up an agrarian lifestyle, said Bean.

“Even in urban environments, people can grow food in community gardens or in their apartments. Food deserts — areas with limited access to affordable and nutritious food — are also a real problem. Some have to choose between health and cost of food, so donating to food banks is another great way to give back.”

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