Everyday Gardeners

Plant. Grow. Live.


Spring is in full force now and the U.S. Compost Council (USCC) just launched their Million Tomatoes Compost Campaign, a tomato growing campaign using donated compost. So go ahead: Start your own vegetable garden with a special spot for some tomatoes. With the help of Nathan Lyon, celebrity chef and campaign spokesperson, you’ll have a thriving garden in no time.

Lyon is well known for his delectable cuisine and his PBS show “Growing a Greener World”, but this spring Lyon is taking time between cooking and filming for a great cause: the Million Tomatoes Compost Campaign, which focuses on spreading the word about the importance of compost for a healthy garden. Compost has been donated by several USCC STA certified compost producers to participating community gardens that will grow tomatoes, either for their own use or for donation to local food banks. The campaign hopes to exceed one million tomatoes by the end of harvest in August.

When Lyon was first approached about the campaign, he was instantly hooked. The project fit perfectly with his interests and what he had been working with on his show. His passion for gardening was cultivated long ago as he used to spend his after-school time with his grandparents in their Virginia garden. Ever since he has been expanding on his skills as a gardener and sharing them with those around him.

“That’s what’s so great about this campaign: You are empowering people by showing them how easy it is to grow your own food and get involved with the community,” says Lyon.

Lyon—as well as a number of other chefs—will be working with the community gardens, schools, and other organization to educate people on using locally grown food. Recently, he created several kid-friendly tomato recipes for the campaign so kids can also get involved, too. Lyon urges others to pay attention to their kids wants. A lot will be excited to get in the garden and grow their own food if you give them the chance.

“Have them grow their own produce and they will be really excited to taste it because they are now stewards,” Lyon explains.

Getting kids involved starts with you. So why not take the time to start your own tomato garden this year? You can easily get involved in the campaign by starting your own tomato garden at home or in a community lot. Go to www.buy-compost.com to see how you can contribute to the campaign.

—Kelsey Schirm, BHG Guest Blogger


Where do your fruits and vegetables come from? This week, my refrigerator is stocked with spinach and blueberries from Florida, raspberries and strawberries from California, grapes from Chile, hothouse tomatoes from Canada, and peppers from Mexico — all courtesy of a recent shopping trip to my local Costco. In Iowa, where cold weather often lingers into April, I welcome the year-round availability of such delicious diversity. But fresh produce is a luxury that many of us take for granted. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 23.5 million Americans live in “food deserts,” areas with little or no access to grocery stores that provide fresh, nutritious, affordable foods. Imagine having to feed your kids only what the corner convenience store sells.

As I see it, we’re becoming increasingly dependent on food from far-flung places. And the further we are from where our food is grown, the greater disconnect with healthy eating. The solution? Planting a vegetable garden is a good start. In raised beds. In containers. In urban areas. In schoolyards. Anywhere there’s a strip of soil and sunshine.

For Ron Finley of South Central Los Angeles, the only spot available for growing veggies was along the curb in front of his house. When the city tried to stop him, Ron — a self-described “guerilla gardener” — took his fresh-food crusade to the streets, literally. He started an organization called L.A. Green Grounds, which help people turn hell strips (the wasted land between sidewalks and streets) into what Ron calls “food forests” that provide “nourishment, empowerment, education — and healthy, hopeful futures — one urban garden at a time,” according to Ron’s TED profile. I encourage you to listen to Ron’s TED Talk. I did, and now he’s one of my garden heroes.

Plant a garden. And then spread the word.

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