By Juliet Martinez
Has anyone told you that if you do not have a grocery store nearby, you should just grow your own food? It isn’t always that simple. Gardening requires clean soil, tools and – most importantly – knowledge about how to transform seeds, soil and water turn into food.
The Homegrown program of Phipps Conservatory helps all of that happen.
Jasmine Pope is the Community Outreach Coordinator for Homegrown. We spoke at Everybody’s Garden on Elizabeth and Lytle streets in November after she had helped plant garlic.
Ms. Pope said the two-year program offers free raised backyard garden beds complete with compost and fresh soil. People who have smaller yards or patios can get containers to plant in. The Homegrown staff bring plants and help plant the garden as well. Gardeners get a trowel, gardening gloves and a watering can along with a Homegrown gardener handbook.
After a month or so, Ms. Pope visits the garden to see how it is growing and what kind of help the gardener might need. The gardeners get to enroll in a virtual gardening course and attend in-person events like culinary classes.
Homegrown built eight gardens in Hazelwood last summer and Ms. Pope led two workshops at the Carnegie Library Hazelwood branch. Teaching the gardeners the ins and outs of growing food is a big part of her job.
“We really try to bring it all in. We talk to them about spacing and things like that. How do you know when things are too close? We do square-foot gardening method, so we talk to them about that,” she said.
Ms. Pope said her favorite part of the program is seeing people get excited about gardening, share their food and deepen their connections with others.
“They get to eat [what they grew] and be proud of themselves,” she said. “But also, the community they belong to being able to take part in that.”
Originally launched in Homewood, Homegrown is almost 10 years old and has now expanded into Hazelwood and Glen Hazel.
Juliet Martinez is the managing editor of The Homepage.