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Overcoming the Overwhelm Kara Mills' Journey

Our vision at Edible Gardens Inc. is to inspire edible gardens for every space. We work to achieve that mission everyday by helping home gardeners wherever they are at in their journeys! We will install a garden from scratch or help you better care for the garden you have through classes and mentorship or give you the tools to DIY your own garden! 

We know from personal experience and scientific evidence that gardening provides substantial benefits to human health. A recent study in 2017 showed that home gardening is linked to better social, and emotional health in young children as well as reduction in behavioral difficulties (Richardson et al., 2017). Another study showed the connection between home vegetable gardening and reductions in depression, stress and an increase in ability to handle stress, overall it increased the physical and mental well-being of adults (Machida, 2019Peeters et al., 2014). Having a garden in your own yard creates a space for you to connect with nature and unwind. The produce you grow there is the freshest and therefore healthier than anything you could get at a store. The sense of accomplishment you get when you pick and eat food grown by your own hands is a reward in itself. As Kathleen Lewis put it, “Guidance for growers installed a BEAUTIFUL backyard garden for my family. We are enjoying watering and taking care of the plants, and my kids are so excited that we will be eating what we grow. It's aesthetically pleasing as well as being practical. My only regret is not getting a bigger garden.”

For us, the best example of the importance of what we do is the story of one of our customers Kara Mills, who wanted to start gardening with her daughter but in her own words had “never even kept a houseplant alive”. She was overwhelmed by the idea of planning, building, and planting a garden and so for two years she put it off, but for two years her daughter persisted in wanting a home vegetable garden and Kara couldn’t stop thinking about it herself. Then her parents asked what they could get their granddaughter for Christmas, Kara said, “A vegetable home garden”. Her parents loved the idea of getting their granddaughter something lasting and unique and agreed to help Kara however they could. She had the financial backing but still had no idea how she was going to pull off her Christmas miracle. 

That’s when she found Edible Gardens Inc. and called us up. She had no idea a service like ours existed and after the first call already felt more at ease and confident that she could pull this off. During that first call she explained her apprehensions about gardening but also her dreams of what it would be like if she could have the garden she wanted. By the end of the call, we already had a preliminary plan. We then went out to her home and surveyed her space measuring and discussing potential garden bed placement. Onsite we were able to talk through a preliminary plan and discuss her preferences such as how much time she wanted to dedicate to the garden and invite her to be a part of the process so that the garden would feel like her own. We then created a detailed custom design using the information she gave us and what we had learned about her space during our visit. We agreed on a beautiful and stately front yard raised bed garden. Each step of the way we made sure Kara had an input, and we changed the plans based on the feedback she gave us. 

The plans were finalized, and Kara was feeling extremely optimistic! She was excited to talk through what plants she and her daughter wanted to grow, and we were able to give her a list of plants that fit her wants and were right for her growing zone. We walked her through how we had organized the plants in the garden and explained seasonal planting and interplanting so that if she chose, she could recreate her garden next year using the same planting plans. 

And so, 4 weeks after she had first called us, we showed up with our installation crew and her beautiful new cedar beds ready to be filled with our signature soil mix. We cleared away the tangle of ground cover that had dominated her front yard and covered her garden space with landscapers fabric to keep down any weeds or ivy that might want to come back. The beds were then placed according to the plan and the gravel Kara chose for her garden paths was added around them. With the beds and paths in place we were ready to plant! 

Kara had made it clear she wanted herself and her daughter to be involved in this part. We planted ornamental plants around the perimeter first, mulching them in to decorate and give the garden definition. We then turned to the cedar beds which were full of rich soil waiting to be planted! Kara and her daughter were quick to jump in getting their hands dirty and learning firsthand how to follow the planting plan we had created together. We were also able to talk through tips and best practices for transplanting and direct seeding. Our installation day became a little class session and at the end we all got to step back and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment looking over Kara’s new edible garden. She and her daughter were so excited to finally have the garden they had been thinking about for all those years. That very day Kara was able to pick leaves from the transplanted lettuces to make a salad for dinner. By the time we left the site Kara was happy to report that her earlier apprehension and that overwhelming feeling from before were gone. She felt prepared and excited for her family's new journey and the growing season ahead. Her parents too were thrilled to get pictures of their granddaughter harvesting fresh produce from the family garden.

We want every home gardener to feel this same sense of empowerment and excitement when they enter their garden. Like another client Janet Pope who had tried for years on her own to grow food for her family but when she was unable to get the results, she asked for our help. Together we recreated her garden by throwing out what hadn’t worked and building up what had so that by the end she was able to say “I’m so happy with my functional and beautiful garden. Finally, success! We just ate a delicious dinner of sautéed Swiss chard and a fresh, nutritious salad. I’m so proud of myself for growing our food! All I needed was Marlena.” 

A garden that is functional, beautiful, and custom designed to fit the gardeners needs is a garden that will last and be a joy to maintain. This is our goal at Edible Gardens Inc. to make home gardening obtainable, sustainable, and enjoyable so that you are empowered like Kara, Janet, Kathleen and many others to grow fresh produce and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment and the health benefits for yourself. 


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