Editor's note: This is Part I of a series of posts about the experience of installing a Farmscape garden. Keep your eyes on the Farmscape blog for future posts in the series.
I have a confession. I have worked at Farmscape for two years and I’ve never had a vegetable garden. Don’t worry, Farmscape doesn’t send me on weekly garden runs. I work in the marketing department and occasionally tag along on runs with our expert urban farmers when I need a reason to get out of the office.
My complicated relationship with food began before my work with Farmscape. I grew up in Iowa, where farming and food were frequent and even unavoidable topics of conversation, yet I gave both matters very little thought. I also grew up with two doctors for parents, which should have meant I was the healthiest kid around. Unfortunately, my parents were not especially concerned with healthy eating, good food, or gardening. It wasn’t that they were bad parents, but in my family food was always seen as merely necessary. It wasn’t healthy, unhealthy, a luxury, local, or processed--food was merely calories that allowed you to continue living. I often ate McDonald’s twice a day, ordered pizza, walked past the aisles of green produce. My brother had a lizard and he fed it kale. Did you know that people can eat kale too?
I have since made great strides with my relationship to food and healthy eating, but to this day I fear the root crops section of the grocery store. As I started to work at Farmscape my friends began sharing the knowledge they gleaned from reading Michael Pollan, Alice Waters, and Mark Bittman. I began to feel passionate about farming, the food movement, organic backyard gardening, and heirloom tomatoes (a phrase that was not even in my vocabulary in the past).
Periodically I call my family to challenge them to stop drinking Diet Coke or noshing on Twinkies and to start eating beets. I’m often met with accusations that I’ve become “Californian,” but last time I was home some of my siblings started to ask how to eat healthier, so I still have hope.
Last year I moved to Los Feliz, and my apartment building had a large front yard space. I knew that I wanted a Farmscape garden of my own, and after two years of helping Angelenos across the city set up their own raised beds I felt I was ready. That, and my love affair with kale was getting costly at the grocery store.
When I moved in, I approached my landlord on the subject of the garden thinking he would be excited. Instead I was met with a big “no way.” I'm persistent, so I sent him proposals via email and photos of other Farmscape gardens over the course of six months. I would like to think it was all of my dedicated discussions with him that finally convinced him, but I know it he finally said yes after his lawn mower quit on him after trying to tackle this:
So after six months I finally got the organic garden I wanted. I had to find some good friends to install it, and I know just the right people...