Wednesday, July 23, 2008

No dirt under your nails? No tomatoes for you!

The New York Times yesterday published this piece about folks hiring gardeners to plant and tend their kitchen gardens so they can have homegrown produce even if they don't have the time, skills, or inclination to garden themselves. All day yesterday I watched this story race around the blogosphere, with fans of local eating ridiculing the rich soft spoiled brats who want to hire someone to do their weeding for them. Slashfood asks what's next, "A service that sends someone to your home to wipe your mouth with an organic, locally-harvested hemp fiber napkin?" Diggin It is annoyed: "It wasn’t what they were doing as much as they were hopping on the bandwagon of the latest trend they’ve read about, eating locally grown foods."


Those who didn't outright condemn the idea made prim moral-values judgments about it. Eat Local Challenge says, "I can only hope that those who have room to grow their own food but pay others to tend it will soon discover the delight of sowing, weeding, tending and eventually harvesting food their own hands have touched." Fresh Greens agrees: "a part of gardening is lost when the hired help is doing the harvesting for you." As if there's something inherently wrong with folks deciding to spend their free time on something they enjoy instead of dutifully picking up a hoe and getting those weeds. There's something Puritanical about this hard-work-is-good-for-the-character approach: Shame on you for not growing it yourself.

I say hooray. Hooray for the folks whose thumbs aren't green but who can afford to have healthy food growing outside their back door anyway -- I wish everyone could afford that. Hooray for the organic gardeners who can turn something they love doing into a way to make a living. Hooray for having a little more garden and a little less lawn in suburbia. Hooray for home grown veggies getting so much attention that people who've never picked a tomato want to see what it's all about.

Speaking as someone who gardens with a lot more enthusiasm than competence, if anyone in Cincinnati is offering a service like this one, please contact me. I will hire you today.

13 comments:

Nemo Wolfe said...

Yours is the correct take on this (admittedly funny) phenomenon.

And I just may have someone to take up this trade.

Jen (Modern Beet) said...

We don't ridicule people who hire a plumber to fix a broken toilet, or those who send their children to daycare since they can't be home to take care of them -- I don't think this is all that different. Not everyone has the time or desire to garden, but hooray for them if they recognize the many benefits of home-grown food!

Martha said...

Funny that anyone would complain about how others spend their money especially when it reflects our own values of growing and eating locally.

I say whatever you can afford to let the experts accomplish, go for it, and go do what you do best.
Makes the world go 'round to have everyone happy in their work.

The Baklava Queen said...

As someone who loves to garden (but is often lazy), I had mixed feelings about the article. Ultimately, though, I agree with what you say, valereee, and would add a vehement HOORAY to seeing the economic viability of people making farming -- even urban "farming" for others -- their job of choice. I don't think I personally could garden for other people as mentioned in the article, but if more people want locally grown food and are willing to employ people to farm for them, then hell yeah, bring it on.

valereee said...

Jennifer, and one of the coolest things about the particular San Francisco-based service that's discussed in the article (the last link in my post is to this service) is the options they offer. You can choose to have a small garden put in and tended weekly. You can tend it as much as you like yourself, and if you want to tend it while the service is there tending it, they'll teach you what they're doing. If you let them put in a larger garden, they'll drop the prices to you and use the extra produce for their CSA customers.

QueerCincinnati.com said...

"someone who gardens with a lot more enthusiasm than competence"

that is my personal motto when it comes to my life as a gardener.

although my lavender is growing REALLY REALLY well.

Full sun works?

Veggie Option said...

After reading the article I'm wondering if I could possibly make a living tending other people's gardens. I'd rather garden than work in cube farm hell.

Audrey said...

Hooray for those willing to pay people to grow organic vegetables, whether in their yard or someone else's. I'm just glad I'm not judged on the quality of my homegrown broccoli. Yikes.

valereee said...

QC, I gave up on lavender. Nowhere near enough sun, I think.

VeggieOption, I wonder! The guy in SF charges between $20 and $35 a week (which sounds like a deal to me), and one of his employees (or a crew) comes out once a week to do the tending. Obviously they have a longer growing season. Here there'd be a longer period of low activity, but you could do hoophouses and cold frames. The guy in SF also has it worked out as part of his CSA, too, so he's earning from that as well.

Audrey, is your broccoli funny looking? Bet it tastes great, though. I see a lot of funny-looking veggies at the farmers' market.

The Q Family said...

Being not-so-green thump person myself, I would love to be able to afford to hire someone to help me. Maybe not full time but to get me started. I agree with you that we should give them a shout out! Hooray!

-Amy @ The Q Family

Anonymous said...

Check out this service: http://northsideguerillafarmer.pbwiki.com/

valereee said...

anonymous, oh, very cool! I'm going to check that out!

Marica said...

Hello everyone-- I am Marica Bernstein, the Northside Guerilla Farmer, waging war on tasteless produce and teaching you to be self-reliant, from seed to table. I teach folks how to plant, plant, and tend a garden (yes, you get dirt under your nails), and then how to serve and preserve their bounty.

northsideguerillafarmer.pbwiki.com
northside.guerilla.farmer@gmail.com