Garden Wars: A preview of the combatants

Next week is the beginning of one the most contentious, acerbic, and acrimonious competitions in all of Richmond. These select horticultural warriors will be pitted in a winner-take-all battle to prove he has the best garden of them all. This is not madness. THIS. IS. GARDEN WARS!

Jason Guard

Food should grow on trees. It’s not a luxury item nor a scarcity. And food should remind us about cycles of life, that water and sun make the world go round. Even if my little urban plot only yields a couple meal’s worth, it serves as a reminder of the nourishing potential of the land; that profiteering middle-men don’t have to come between us and our basic needs. Also, the experience of turning over the dirt, sowing seedlings, and caring for steadily growing plants is probably the most satisfyingly simple pleasure of all my hobbies. Even an arduous task like weeding feels relaxing in the midst of a demanding work week. And the sense of accomplishment is pretty profound after seeing something start out so small and frail eventually growing big and strong.

Sarah Milston

I built a garden in our new house for a few reasons. I garden because its in my bones – even if I wanted to ignore it. I grew up on multiple farms and my parents had an organic farm before they were so popular. At age 17 after years of forced gardening I swore I would never garden or live in the country again. So now I live in the city and have carved out a garden in our front yard – the only full sun on our lot.

I garden because it is a great way to teach our almost three year old daughter about math – 2 seeds equal 2 plants (we hope) and science, sun + rain = a watermelon, and how to eat well and be in charge of what goes into your mouth. Which is also the third reason – I garden to grow yummy food. I have wonderfully fond memories as a child of filling up a basket with dinner which rarely made it inside to be cooked. Regardless the reasons, I am excited for our first gardening season at the urban corner garden.

Jorge & Patience Salgado

Why do I garden… the real question is why hadn’t I gardened before?? I guess I never really had the space or much motivation to upkeep and maintain a garden, but once the Salgado clan moved into our new digs across the river, we were handed over a backyard that was bounding with possibilities. This little piece of earth is bursting with things growing out of the ground, and I’ve recently learned how absolutely amazing it is to walk out of your backdoor, pick something and be able to eat it right then. And I guess we can never have too many tomatoes or squash too.

Scott Pharr

I love gardening because it provides the perfect learning experience for my two girls, gives us a feeling of accomplishment of growing our own food, and puts a smile on my wife’s face because we are eating healthy organic veggies all summer long!

Ryan Smartt

While growing up in Kansas, my parents always had a small garden in their backyard where they grew tomatoes and hot peppers (they still do, BTW). I found it fascinating that we could actually grow the same stuff we bought at the grocery store. After moving to Richmond ten years ago, I started my own garden our front “yard” in the Fan: a two-by-two foot square plot of dirt. My wife Elizabeth and I didn’t have any pets or children at that point, so I enjoyed the chance to take care of something every day. Several years ago for our wedding anniversary, we traveled to an amazing wellness retreat called Rancho la Puerta where they organically grow much of the food they serve to their guests. We met the head gardener, who gave us a tour of their impressive farm. I’ve never seen someone so proud; he treated his crops like they were his children, pulling carrots and onions out of the ground to show them off to us. It was very inspirational, and the food was INCREDIBLE. Fast forward to life with a child: I wanted to become a gardener to make sure our 4-year-old daughter Lyla was exposed to the joy of planting something, watching it grow, and taking care of it before enjoying a healthy and delicious treat. Plus, it gives us both an excuse to get wet and dirty!

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