Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Video: Denton digs into urban gardening
Earthwise Gardens and Bowling Green Park are two options for Denton residents.
Ryan Crocker is a businessman. He talks supply and demand, runs his own shop, and lives in the heart of downtown Denton. He is also a farmer, providing local produce to the community and helping bring urban gardening to North Texas.
Denton is fertile ground for the blossoming trend of backyard and public community gardens, which give owners the freedom to grow their own food as well as sell their local produce at farmers’ markets.
“People want organic, local produce that’s different than what you buy at Walmart,” Crocker said. “One of the best things is going to the market on Saturday mornings and seeing everyone interact – it’s community building. You also see teams of people moving their bodies, and it’s fun to get out in the garden for awhile.”
Crocker, a UNT alumnus, grew produce for his own kitchen from World War II-era garden plots in England, started a farm in New Mexico and in 2011, returned to his roots in Denton to start Earthwise Gardens, a produce company that advocates for community supported agriculture.
Urban gardening has multiple benefits, City of Denton Parks Manager Russell Koch said.
“Gardens connect people to the environment and nature,” Koch said. “It can also be used as a learning tool for students as they plant and grow different types of materials.”
Bowling Green Park at 2200 Bowling Green St. is a community garden open to anyone interested in renting plots and growing their own produce. Tenants rent one of the 52 plots from the city, personally maintaining their stake of land for a full year.
Koch said since the park was founded in the late ’80s, every plot has been consistently rented.
“This was and still is a benefit to the community and the city of Denton,” he said.
The tools necessary to turn a leisurely yard into a harvestable investment can be found at any home improvement or hardware store. From pre-packaged vegetable seeds with easy care instructions at Lowe’s to chicken coops sold at D&L Hardware, there are options for all sorts of green thumbs.
“Every day we have people come in and ask how to grow their own vegetables and herbs,” said Rabecca Pate, Lowe’s Home Improvement live nursery sales specialist. “A lot of people want organic and not packaged fertilizers, so I help them combine things like peat moss and cow manure.”
While the initial process of buying seeds and setting up either a raised bed or irrigation system is the largest expense, over time tilling the ground and reusing the same patch of soil will reap health and financial benefits, Crocker said.
“I just took the plunge,” Crocker said. “There’s no way to learn without jumping in and doing it.”
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