Welcoming this change in season, cueing longer evenings outside and so many opportunities for newness we welcome our next guest, Lauri Kranz! Lauri is the woman behind Edible Gardens, it’s shop LA HOMEFARM and author of A Garden Can Be Anywhere. This book is a guide to creating a beautiful and bountiful home garden. Similar to your favorite cookbook, but rather than an invitation to the kitchen you’re invited into the garden.
We sat down with Lauri and had the chance to learn about her journey, and her heart behind these incredibly community focused accomplishments she has given so much of herself to. Without further ado, the incredibly kind and gifted Lauri Kranz!
When my oldest son started school, I needed to volunteer for something at his school and I chose gardening. The truth is: I picked gardening because it was something I could do with him. Growing up, I’d spent time with my own father in the small vegetable garden he cultivated each summer and really treasured that time with my Dad. I loved gardening in the school garden, planting seeds, watching them sprout, nurturing the plants and then harvesting the food they produced. It seemed miraculous to me then, and it still does today. What began as a volunteer parent gardener position at my son’s school, turned into a full-blown passion for growing food. I went to the library every week and took out all of the books I could find on vegetable gardening. I started a garden at home, and asked farmers at our local farmer’s market endless questions about how to grow good food. Many of those same farmers have become close friends; they taught me the art of growing food naturally and organically. When my younger son started school, his school did not have a gardening program. I started a gardening program there and parents started asking me to help them with their own vegetable gardens. Edible Gardens LA was born out of those first few gardens. My motivation is to help people connect with their food, the land and to create better food systems, both at Edible Gardens LA and with our new market, LA HOMEFARM.
The health of any garden begins with the soil. Be sure to research the soil you plan on using. If you’re growing in the ground, get the soil tested, especially if you’re in the city. If you’re using bagged soil, make sure it says organic on it and then look through the ingredients to make sure you can identify each one. If you’re using bulk soil, call the soil yard and ask them if they use “bio-solids.” Many soil companies, (both bulk and bagged) are using human waste as fertilizer, which is listed in many different ways including “bio-solids.” Bio-solids contain forever chemicals including those from dry cleaning and pharmaceutical residues. Re-using waste products is a laudable goal, but not for growing food. Anything that’s in our soil goes into the food we grow in it and then into our bodies. Make sure to use only organic soil and compost, to ensure you create a healthy garden both for yourself and the planet.
Make sure the area where you’re planning to grow receives at least 5 hours of sun per day, and be sure to water your plants deeply and regularly. Do a sun study by taking pictures of your growing spot at different times of day: you may be surprised to find it’s shaded. On the hottest days of summer your garden may need to be watered daily.
I love starting beans, squash and cucumbers from seed. They pop up easily and produce beautifully. Peppers and eggplant are a little trickier from seed, and tomatoes take a good while; I suggest purchasing these as seedlings.
What inspires you about your time with plants and flowers? How does it impact you personally?
Time in the garden is my Zen. Sure, there’s heavy lifting and digging, but that is all part of putting the rest of the world aside and being fully immersed in the present. The work of a garden makes demands on us both physically and mentally, but very quickly you begin to see the intelligence of the plants and pollinators and soil working together with you. This work is beautiful!
I don’t think of the work I do as being a ‘brand.’ A brand is an identity that tends to separate itself from the products and the work. That’s distraction, and there’s already too much of that in a life. I’m grateful to do work that I love and build a life around this work.
My day starts at 5am and ends at 8pm. Our shop, LA HOMEFARM, is open Wednesday – Sunday and on Mondays and Tuesdays I’m in gardens. We also have a small piece of land where my husband Dean Kuipers and I grow flowers for LA HOMEFARM and connect ourselves to the health of the community.
Every day I get up and immediately start ordering and organizing food for the shop and work in the gardens. There’s nothing more grounding than feeding people.
Every day is a new adventure in a garden.There’s always something unexpected happening in each new day and each new season in the world of plants. Gardens are our best teachers.
My husband Dean and I opened LA HOMEFARM this past November. Our focus is on naturally grown and organic produce from local farmers. We also have specialty pantry items, home goods and more. Prior to opening the store, we were distributing farm boxes that we put together from many of the same growers and makers, and we got to know thousands of customers all over the city. But having a brick-and-mortar market means that the customers come into the store, and that’s pure joy! We already have so many regulars and new friends, and many of them are chefs, and people bring their kids – it’s very social. Most everyone wants to talk about food, swap recipes, share news of the neighborhood. This shop is an incredible connector. People meet up there as a destination, then move on down the road to some of the other great restaurants and shops in our neighborhood, who have also become friends. It’s brought so many new people, ideas and delicious foods into our lives. Our focus now is on getting this food to some of the underserved neighbors in our area – the wheels are turning!
LA HOMEFARM, located at 3389 Eagle Rock Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90065: 10 AM – 6 PM. Photo credit: Mali Abel