Starting Small

Local food is finally trending! From Whole Foods to your regional farmer’s market, fresh, healthy produce is growing, both in the ground and in popularity.

For 22-year-old Natasha Tomchin, web developer and recent University of Miami (UM) graduate, local food is just a few steps out the door. In her last year at UM she decided to start a garden; she had been planning one ever since she grew up gardening with her parents.

The garden in its beginning stages.
The garden in its middle stages. Photo by: Natasha Tomchin

Last July she dove right into building it, putting together a simple box of four wood planks, shoveling up the grass, and putting more soil on top. “It’s like a total irrigation system on its own… I didn’t have to do anything, as long as you rip up all the grass, that’s it,” she says.

The garden’s been built up and harvested twice, and this third time around she’s gotten into her groove. Natasha admits that when she started, she didn’t give much thought to the logistics of maintaining a garden. It’s been “way more trial and error than [she] expected.”  Every day she faces new challenges, like “how do you protect your garden from raccoons?” Tomatoes she planted in July took six months to produce fruit when they should’ve only taken three. During the first round, she planted tomatoes on one side and cucumbers on the other. Her cucumbers grew to 5-feet tall before she realized they would shade the rest of her plants.

With the help of Frausto & Co.’s Garden Deck, and a lot of experimenting, she’s learned how to plan for seasons, what grows well together, and how best to arrange seeds. Observing her garden has been the the most effective way to figure out where to go from here.

“If you pay attention to plants, you’ll learn a lot more.”

Now she spends half an hour a day in the garden, weeding, watering, and reinforcing its protection from hungry, snacking animals. The maintenance is easy as long as its consistent, and she even finds the work can be meditative sometimes.

Plus, it pays off. Store-bought produce just doesn’t hold a candle to food fresh from the garden. Natasha started going to farmer’s markets about two years ago and could always taste the difference, and eating the first cucumber from her garden was like, “Oh my God,” it’s just so good.

 “It’s a completely different kind of food.”

Thinking about soil and the fertilizer she puts in the ground gives her a new appreciation for good eating. She, like 95 percent of the rest of us, isn’t always diligent about an organic lifestyle, but from paying attention to what’s feeding her food, she understands more how important it is to feed herself well.

The first homegrown salad!
The first homegrown salad! Photo by: Natasha Tomchin

We hope to see more personal gardens popping up around town. If you’re interested in learning how to DIY (also trending), check out the link below to get started.

Grow a Backyard Vegetable Garden





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