by Tonie Hansen

The new farm stand is ready for business. Bright murals – hundreds of square feet of them – have been completed with a flourish. Large swathes of land have been primed for spring planting. And muscles have been strained way, way beyond their usual reach.

Some 1,500 NVIDIA employees, family and community members racked up over 10,000 volunteer hours this past weekend at Full Circle Farm, the focus this year of Project Inspire, our annual volunteer event, held in place of a holiday party.

With more than $380,000 invested in donated material and labor, the project has transformed the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based community farm and almost tripled the number of individuals it can serve. Full Circle Farm grows and sells fruit and veggies to consumers, schools and restaurants, and uses the proceeds to fund programs aimed at educating youth and families about where their food comes from and the importance of eating local.

Several employees spent two days to build
a farm stand for Full Circle Farm

Over the course of Friday and Saturday, NVIDIA’s troops tackled a series of projects. Among them:

  • Building a demonstration teaching area:  We created an outdoor teaching and demonstration facility where students can learn about the science of food and how to prepare healthy meals that incorporate local produce.
  • Improving storage and packing facilities:  We built and furnished a facility that will enable Full Circle Farm to better store and prepare the produce that it sells to restaurants, schools and individuals.
  • Upgrading retail location: We built a beautiful, colorful structure that will welcome visitors and enable the Farm to sell its own produce. This new “Farm Stand” was used to sell farm produce for the first time yesterday.
  • Expanding farm production capacity: We added irrigation to the farm’s orchard, helped it increase the quality of its soil and improved its ability to plant and grow more produce.
  • Increasing hosting facilities: We built and colorfully painted dozens of benches, tables and wine-country-style signs to better direct and host the increased visitors to the Farm.

Check out what NVIDIA co-founder Chris Malachowsky and a few other employees have to say about why Project Inspire is so important to them:

You can get another sense of the project through these amazing photos.

This project was more than seven months in the making. We wouldn’t have gotten much beyond the first step or two, though, without our partner City Year. They’ve been helping us execute Project Inspire since 2009, and it would simply be impossible to execute an undertaking like this without them. They are an inspiring organization that provides youth ages 17-24 with leadership skills and the opportunity to help at-risk students in schools all throughout the U.S. We’re ever grateful to them for their hard work and public spiritedness.