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

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Lewis & Tara / Santa Monica

A random visit on Presidents' Day


Tuesday, March 08, 2011 at 10:00AM

Lewis in the garden. Santa Monica, Presidents' Day 2011. Says John: "Lewis was a delight to be with; we tasted all sorts of delicious fruits." Photo by John D. Ivanko /

It was about 9 a.m. on a Monday morning. As it was Presidents' Day and the financial markets were closed, I was feeling relaxed and recharging my game. The phone rang. The man on the other end of the line introduced himself as John Ivanko. He, sounding non-accented in an apologetic and deferential way, was sorry to inconvenience me, he explained. He was visiting Los Angeles from Browntown, Wisconsin, with his wife, Lisa Kivirist and their nine-year-old son, Liam, who is home-schooled. Could they stop by for a visit?

Turns out they are major players in a movement known as ecopreneuring. They also run a sustainable bed-and-breakfast and grow their own organic food in the backyard. Their motto is something like: Back to the garden, to put soul and people before profits.

As people who derive meaning and joy from the garden, Tara and I can relate. I found out my unexpected visitors from the Midwest had read about our locavore adventures from our blog on the Forage website. Thought it had been difficult to find me, they came looking determined to know more.

They are shorter season growers, starting later in May to November-ish, planting mostly tubulars, with a more limited variety. Crazy about the variety I get from the Santa Monica weather, they stayed 90 minutes for the grand tour. I fed them guavas -- Mexican pink, Hawaiian, yet they liked the luscious South African best.

Long Wisconsin winters had made John impervious to cold. He took photos for a magazine called Hobby Farms, laying on the ground in his shorts, seeking outbreaks of color. He shot the Mysterioso Delicioso, oranges, and apricot blossoms. Ladders were used to get the right angles. Photos include a pecan tree which I have positioned to camouflage a telephone pole. John wanted wires to show so that my garden should not be mistaken for the country. Liam helped his father. He thought the fisheye lens might be best for certain shots.

Lewis Perkins lives in Santa Monica, nestled in a semi-tropical paradise, growing exotic edibles in Southern California. When not working with Tara in the garden, Lewis is a Certified Financial Planning Professional® spending time with clients as a real estate, insurance, and securities broker. His websites are and

Ways to support
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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.