Among the plant information and many marketing and merchandising ideas, were a couple of truly “wow” moments. The one that really hit home for me was presented by a woman named Brie Arthur. I had never heard of her prior to this day. Shame on me!
Brie is a star in the horticultural world and you may have read her book The Foodscape Revolution: Finding a Better Way to Make Space for Food and Beauty in Your Garden but I had not. I’m remedying that situation now!
Brie became the amazing author that she is because she started growing produce in her yard in North Carolina. Vegetables in her flowerbeds… In her front yard… In a neighborhood with a very strict HOA… WHAT!?
The first thing that struck me about this story is how sad that people no longer recognize vegetables in the ground. Her HOA didn’t fine her or kick up a fuss because they had no idea what they were looking at. My childhood was full of fresh veggies from Grandpa’s garden, I knew what vegetables looked like in the ground; sadly I confess my child has no idea what a tomato plant looks like.
Here are some tips I took away from Brie’s presentation that day.
1. Grow things you are actually going to eat. Simple, right? Eggplant is ridiculously easy to grow and produces a lot of fruit per plant, but how many times a week do you currently eat eggplant?
2. Don’t start with the finicky plants. Tomatoes are awesome; they are also pest and disease magnets. Failure and frustration are only going to deter you, so choose your plants wisely. Start small and then build on those successes.
3. Investing in your soil is worth every penny. This is going to be a common refrain in all of my posts. I am a devoted advocate for better soil = less chemicals. Instead of spending your money on mulch, add an inch or two of leaf-mold compost. Especially in older beds, adding compost and a completely organic product like Microlife can completely revitalize your plants. Ornamental plants benefit as much as edible plants!
4. Finally, hide the iPad, the phone, or hit pause on your WiFi and get the whole family involved. Use that child labor! Seriously, time in the garden is so beneficial! Ms. Arthur worked with the garden club at an elementary school near her home; they did exactly as she had done in her own garden, used existing space and planted food among the ornamentals. When she started this project, there were five children in garden club; the following school year eighty-six children joined the garden club. Eighty-one kids saw how amazing it is to grow a vegetable and wanted to be part of it… How awesome is that?!