Your ancestors grew their own food, and so can you, whether you have multiple acres or just a few square feet.
There’s always room for growth when it comes to farming—or even gardening—and we found inspiration from a modern farmer, a custom gardening kit, and several new books on our path to good old self-sufficiency.
The Modern Farmer
From arugula to zucchini, every crop at Lauren Palmer’s Tennessee farm is certified organic.
When Lauren Palmer started Bloomsbury Farm in Smyrna, Tennessee, in 2009, she sold her organic produce at local farmers markets. Today, the farm’s 400 acres provide organic vegetables, fruits, sprouts, and herbs to wholesalers and retailers in and around Nashville. But Bloomsbury’s roots go much deeper than that. “This farm has given so much to so many generations before me,” says Palmer. “The proof of that is we are finding Indian arrowheads on the regular.” What has never changed at Bloomsbury, however, is Palmer’s commitment to organic farming. “Our hope is to add and give back, so the soil and the farm regenerate and the life in the soil is as healthy as possible, which brings better-tasting, robust crops,” she says. When it comes to growing an at-home garden, Palmer suggests starting with things you like to eat and enjoy cooking the most. “I have so much respect for the backyard go-getters!” she says. “They get a glimpse at providing food for their families. What we all have in common is we are all subject to cold snaps that can wipe out a crop, too much wind or rain that damages our hard work, or not enough rain. Mother Nature is simply bigger than us, and she must be respected.”
No Yard? No Problem.
Gardenuity’s patio-to-plate garden kits are designed for small spaces.
“If you feel like more people are gardening, you’re not wrong,” says Donna Letier, co-founder and CEO of Gardenuity. “People are looking for ways to de-stress, to bring holistic wellness into their daily routine, and have some fun.” With her company’s customized garden kits, Letier wants to make sure anyone can have an “I grew that!” moment. The plants in each garden, which include options such as the Salad Garden Kit, the Taco Toppings Garden Kit, and the bestselling Cocktail Herb Garden Kit ($72 each), are chosen for the season and your location. But just how easy are the gardens to grow? “We have over a 95 percent success rate of our growers getting a harvest, but it does require participation,” says Letier. “You have to water it and place it where it will get some sun during the day.” Gardenuity helps ensure success by giving all of its gardeners access to its online Grow Pro service, which offers one-on-one support throughout the growing season.
For Your Perusal
Three new gardening books that can help put you on the path to self-sufficiency.
The Backyard Homesteader
($30, Gibbs Smith) Learn to plan, establish, and maintain a small-acre farm or backyard vegetable garden.
The Complete Guide to No-Dig Gardening ($25, Cool Springs Press) will teach you, among other lessons, how to create a no-dig herb or veggie garden from scratch.
Tiny Victory Gardens ($20, Stone Pier Press) offers step-by-step instructions on growing your own food even if you don’t have a yard.
Photography: (Cover image) Life’s Simple Pleasures by Erin Lamb/Courtesy 2018 C&I Annual Photo Contest; (Cocktail Garden image) Courtesy Gardenuity
From our April 2021 issue