Jack and Megan Tend a Garden

by Laura on March 28, 2010

in From the Experts

Spring is here and there is no better time than now to talk about planting a garden. This month we talk backyard gardening with Jack and Megan. As parents of three, Jack and Megan are finding the time to grow garden filled with everything from grapes to snap peas. In the process, they have strengthened their relationship with the foods they eat, while educating their children about the wide variety – and seasonality – of foods.

Family Eats: What was it that got you involved in creating a garden for fruits and vegetables?

Megan: We have always wanted a garden, so when we first bought our house, a garden was high on our list of things to do. I have always been a healthy eater, so when I became pregnant, we felt it was just the right time to start our own garden filled with our own fruits and vegetables. We also thought that it would be fun to watch the garden blossom as my belly was growing.

FE: In the few years since you first began your garden, how has it progressed?

Jack: When we first bought our place we really did not have a plan for a grandiose garden, but we certainly seem to build on it each year. In the first year, we had one raised bed and couple of tomatoes. Last year, I started sowing my own seeds and this year I just started building a greenhouse. To date, we have six raised beds and two trellises where I grow grapes, raspberries and hopefully strawberries. We’ve more than 100 cloves of garlic, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, chard, and a lot more.

FE: Where did you find inspiration for this?

Jack: I have been conscious about my resources for sometime now. A while back, I produced an environmental documentary about a Eustace Conway, a naturalist, who moved into the forest at 17 and still lives there today at the age of 49. I spent nine months, in a Yurt on a river, cutting the film with solar power. Eustace Conway inspired me a lot to learn where my resources come from, but I also think that my little brother, who holds a Masters in Horticulture, has inspired me as well. In addition to that, I have a father-in-law and brother-in-law who are into gardening too, and we trade banter and notes frequently.

FE: How well does the garden meet your needs?

Megan: No, the garden doesn’t meet all our needs for produce, but it is a great start. We are lucky to have the Berkeley Bowl nearby, so we have an abundance of produce available all year round. But, that can be both good and bad. I like to teach my children abut the seasonality of foods, and if we find grapes at the Bowl, when I know they’re not in season, I try to explain to my children, that they are just not ready for us to enjoy yet. We supplement with other organically grown vegetables, but with all that we grow (chard garlic, beets potatoes carrots, peas and green beans artichokes, watermelons, pumpkins), we truly try to make our garden the main choice for your vegetables.

FE: Now that you are deep into gardening, are you satisfied with your efforts?

Megan: When I became pregnant, I was very conscious about what I put in my body. It is a lifestyle choice, in which we choose to eat foods that are free from pesticides, and that is definitely something that we can accomplish by growing our own fruits and vegetables. Not only does the garden allow us to grow our fruits and vegetables without pesticides, it offers us a great opportunity to teach our children about growing and eating great tasting foods. I love seeing Ella come in from playing outside with cherry tomatoes stains dripping down the front of her shirt.

Jack: I think that it is natural to try to pass on your passions to your children. This passion for growing our own food is great because it is something that I know is affecting their lives immediately with good health. I think that if they understand WHERE their food comes from and WHAT is in it (or what isn’t), they will gain respect for it and ultimately will be better for it.

FE: What’s next for Jack and Megan and their backyard gardening?

Jack: We recently joined the Bay Area Meat CSA and bought a 1/2 of a Yorkshire pig. It should be interesting!

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