The Home Growers Circle: Real people with a passion to grow real food

Ethel & Bill Robert Charmaine & Brian Brandon Nancy Lewis & Tara Malika & Donny Andy & Susanna Craig & Gary Warren & Lovejoy

Lewis & Tara / Santa Monica

A working, ornamental garden is like life. They’re both works in progress. Lewis and Tara live the adage, "Two heads are better than one." We look after the garden and each other, light-heartedly nudging and nurturing growth and productivity. Gardening together is therapeutic time to talk, recreate and work through issues that come up daily. A friend calls us Ma and Pa Locavores, a riff on the 1940s comedy duo, Ma and Pa Kettle.

Lewis' Grandpa Alfred from Frankfurt, Germany sold farm machinery and later home delivered fine foods in Chicago. At age 6, Lewis was sent into the raspberry patch to procure berries for dessert. Returning with an inch in the bottom of a bowl, Gramps was sure more were eaten than retrieved. To the present, the lesson learned: a delightful harvest could be obtained from the smallest cultivated places. Our symbiotic relationship with a casual, yet elegant, and innovative restaurant such as Forage, takes the process one step further.

Gardening here in Santa Monica for Lewis is challenging, like his day job as a financial planner and real estate broker! There are a multitude of variables that need to be considered and respected. Inspiration for plants, investments, and philosophy has come from travels to far-away places and watching cycles unfold. Tending to unique plants has changed over this last climate-varied decade. Throughout the year, harvests include: 6 kinds of guavas; chambas and patangas of the Surinam cherry family; Java and Kona coffees; tangerines; Valencia and Navel oranges; white and black zapotes; macadamia nuts; calmyrna figs; Afghani and Persian mulberries; cherries of the Rio Grande; Hachiya and Fuyu persimmons; longans; loquats; apricots; several plums types; curry; bay leaves; various mints, and a miniature avocado.

Tara's place is dry-scaped with crushed red rock and sandstone. A few cactus, papyrus, pittosporum silver sheen, flax, tea tree, lemon verbena and succulents grace her garden. On their first date Lewis spoke eloquently and endlessly about his garden, like other men talk about sports. Curious about it, Tara began to appreciate finding something good to eat in his yard any time of year. Now, the garden is a favorite oasis for rejuvenation. She rationalizes that her yearly water allotment is diverted to his plants. The garden has become a locus for self-care in her day job as a family therapist. Gracing the garden with yoga stretches, Tara enjoys the refuge of greenery and color. The lush fragrances of blossoms often find their way as a bouquet for her kitchen.

Ways to support
urban farming
in Los Angeles

Community partners have stepped forward with ways you can support local growers:

We know how much everyone in this city loves the movies. Have you seen this one? The Garden is an Academy Award nominated documentary that tells the story of urban farmers who struggle against land developers to keep their community farm in South Central Los Angeles alive. This film offers a revealing look at the challenges of urban farming in a megacity once known for its agricultural output. The director of the film, Scott Hamilton Kennedy, is a Silver Lake resident and he has offered to not only sell DVDs of the film at a 10% discount, but also grant 10% of proceeds to support the certification fees of future participants of the Home Growers Circle. Buy a DVD and help us build support for an eleventh urban microfarmer. Maybe we'll have to ask one of the microfarmers to raise some corn so that we can make some home-grown movie popcorn. Click here to order a DVD and support the Home Growers Circle. Remember to use promotional code FORAGE.