Warning: growing your own food can be good for your health

| May 2, 2013 | 0 Comments
IT BEGAN when she planted two Earthboxes. Today, Jo Anne Trigo’s front yard yields a bounty of fruits and vegetables.

IT BEGAN when she planted two Earthboxes. Today, Jo Anne Trigo’s front yard yields a bounty of fruits and vegetables.

When I set out to interview Two Dog Organic Nursery owner Jo Anne Trigo four years ago, little did I know that her obsession would become my own.

Saddened by a string of deaths in her family, the self-described “farm girl at heart” longed to grow vegetables at the Miracle Mile home she shares with husband Alex. Hampered by two rescue dogs who destroyed their backyard—she turned to container gardening after learning about EarthBox garden kits.

“I started out with two of them,” she told me at the time. The maintenance-free container growing system uses less water than planting in the ground, is weed-free and can be placed on stands to keep critters away.She bought a couple more, then a couple more, “and pretty soon it was like I was possessed.”

I know the feeling.

Jo Anne and I became fast friends that day, and, inspired by her enthusiasm, I went home with two EarthBoxes, some soil and a few seedlings. I also began working at the nursery a couple of evenings a week, where I blissfully transplanted seedlings in her garage while listening to Dodgers’ games on the radio. The hours I spent working there were traded for even more EarthBoxes.

DAY’S HARVEST last fall from my backyard container garden.

DAY’S HARVEST last fall from my  container garden.

I counted eight of them as well as several soft-sided Smart Pot containers in my back yard this morning as I picked lettuce, radishes, carrots, celery, strawberries and blueberries for my mid-day meal. This evening, I plan to harvest kale and beets and the last of the English peas to make way for beans, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant and zucchini seedlings I picked up at Two Dog yesterday.

Jo Anne’s obsession has blossomed into a booming business. The Trigo’s front yard hosts an unbelievable array of fruits and vegetables, while shelves along the driveway and tables out back teem with thousands of seedlings ready to be taken to weekend farmers’ markets or picked up by customers.

JUST-PICKED veggies are ready for the oven.

JUST-PICKED veggies are ready for the oven.

The garage houses even more shelves where individually andlovingly planted seeds sprout under full-spectrum fluorescent lights. There are also seedlings in the dining room, guest room, and, she admits, even in her and Alex’s bedroom.

“From the beginning, the nursery has had double-digit growth every year. But this spring has been absolutely insane,” Jo Anne said of sales at the only certified organic retail nursery in the L.A. area.

A number of reasons come to mind as we ponder the explosion of home, school, restaurant and community gardens as well as businesses related to gardening.

“I think the attention brought by Prop 37, recalls of tainted beef and produce plus rising costs and general economic uncertainty have a lot to do with people wanting to grow their own. I also believe that the anxiety in the world today is driving people to get their hands in the soil.

“That’s how I started,” she adds. “It was like horticultural therapy… I found gardening to be so healing, sustaining, consoling.”

There’s also the increasing number of food documentaries like ‘Food Inc.’ “that are enough to make you stop and think,” said Jo Anne.

Gardening classes and workshops in related subjects like food preservation as well as a resurgence of beekeeping and raising chickens are signs that we’re not the only ones who want to get back to the earth.

“People are just feeling like they want more control over what they eat and what they feed their kids. It’s something they can have power over,” said Jo Anne.

To those who find the prospect of growing their own intimidating, Jo Anne advises they dismiss the notion that they have black thumbs. “It’s really not that hard, especially with EarthBoxes.”

“Sure,” she adds, “it takes time. It ruins your manicure. But the therapeutic nature of the hobby can’t be beat. Plus, there’s nothing like picking your dinner from your own back yard.”

I can attest to that.

For more information, go to twodognursery.com.

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Category: Real Estate

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