By Enrique Garcia, Urban Farmer with Garden Farms
When I first started trying to grow my own food I was almost 40 years old. I had just become vegan and was well on my way to losing 140 pounds. My life and health changed dramatically. I had also learned about the horrors of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and our corrupt food industry; how so much had changed since our grandparents grew up on farms. Plant-based was definitely the way to go, so I figured I’d better learn how to grow this stuff as buying organic was a tad bit expensive, especially when you have kids.
So I went and bought all the things I thought I’d need to start my own garden. $80 worth – a couple bags of soil, seeds (Non-GMO and organic), a farmer hat and the ubiquitous tool set everyone has seen by now with a trowel (which I call a digger) , pruners (“tweezers”) and that 3-prong thingy which 7 years later I still haven’t found a use for!
I planted my seeds and hoped for the best. Tomatoes, jalapenos and some herbs, like basil & oregano. One by one they died a miserable death and several months later all I had to show for my efforts was a single tiny cherry tomato … but it was the best tomato I had ever tasted! I was hooked…
I know what you’re thinking; the next year I corrected and improved my methods and figured it all out? No!! My 2nd attempt I grew even less food!! Zero. Zilch. Nada. I planted next to the Southern-most wall in my yard, so I gradually lost all sunlight as the months passed. I assumed I had a Brown Thumb and should just give up. Not a very auspicious start.
But today here I stand; having grown thousands of pounds of delicious organic fruits and vegetables and I work for Garden Farms where I teach kids in our school system how to grow their own in the fastest growing school garden system in the country.
What changed? I simply did one thing. I never gave up.
And I finally did what almost no one does. I got some expert advice.
The fact is there is no such thing as a Brown Thumb. Anyone (and I mean anyone), can learn to grow their own food.
I’m not sure why people go blindly into gardening, “Yes, just take that fragile plant and put it against that brick wall in 115 degree heat and hope for the best.” Imagine if we did the same when it came time to learn to drive, simply handing the keys over to teenagers, wish them luck and set them loose on the highway? I know in this scenario lives are at stake… but tell that to the plants!
I eventually became a Master Gardener (which I now define as someone who has killed more plants than you) and I realized the mistakes I was making. The fact is most people are breaking only 1 or 2 gardening rules, which if they corrected, they’d be well on their way to growing their own food.
Which is what we aim to teach at the 2nd annual Grow Your Own Festival on Saturday October 7th, 10am to 4 pm at Vegas Roots Community Garden.
Festival highlights include novice to advanced gardening workshops such as How to Garden in Las Vegas, Beds Buckets or Towers, Container Gardening 101, Gardening With Your Kids, Growing Garden Towers, Hydro & Aquaponics, Fruit & Nut Trees in the Desert, Herb Gardens Galore and Composting 101.
Join us on Saturday October 7th, and learn to Grow Your Own!