Over the past few years, edible gardening has seen a surge in popularity. Spurred by the garden to table movement, the slow living movement and surely aided by our new found appreciation for all things local, vegetable gardens are thriving in city centres.Most avid gardeners are not surprised at the incredible influx of new and diverse populations to the call of seed to plate living. An antidote to mindless scrolling on social media, gardens are growing in urban spaces now more than ever.
The return to the garden comes with a new and broad community of like minded people. Gardening is creating new friendships and partnerships and fueling a return to simple living. For us (Luay Ghafari of Urban Farm and Kitchen and Melissa Cameron of The Good Seed), a love of urban gardening took an online friendship started on Instagram to a real life garden lifestyle and education business, gardenologie.
On the importance of community
We are both passionate about urban gardening and have spent long hours reminiscing about our best garden experiences and sharing differences in our cultures and families when it comes to growing and cooking our own food. The story of our friendship is one that is becoming more common, as we gather in community with the garden as the focus. A spirit of cooperation and sharing is evident at every community garden and the work of the garden is being shared by strangers and families alike.This return to the urban garden is here to stay. Now, all the more so, the self sufficiency of growing your own food in an urban and suburban setting is becoming apparent. More than a trend, accessing local and organically grown abundant harvests is starting to transform communities. New housing initiatives are starting to take community gardens into account in their planning purposes and urbanites are ingeniously growing on balconies and in small front yards. Moving beyond just potted herbs, city gardens are being planted with vision and style.
On the importance of connecting with nature
Urban gardens not only provide sustenance for the body, they provide sustenance for the mind. They are our sanctuaries. A place to connect with nature, to connect with wildlife and to connect with ourselves.
More than ever before, organic, regenerative principles are shaping the way we garden. These principles allow us to work with nature, not against it and still create lush, thriving, abundant gardens.
On the importance of education
With deep connections in the gardening community, we felt that there was a gap in the market and wanted to share our 25+ years of combined flower growing and edible gardening experience with the world. There is no shortage of blogs and YouTube videos to help the garden DIYer. There are plenty of established landscaping companies offering services to the hands-off garden enthusiast. But what about the gardener that wants to be hands-on and yet supported on their gardening journey? This gap in the market is what led to the creation of gardenologie and educational programs such as A Year in the Urban Garden. A Year in the Urban Garden takes students on a journey from seed to plate. The online program offers students the opportunity to learn about garden visioning, planning, seed starting, soil health, pest management, plant maintenance, harvesting, preservation, recipes and much more. With access to email and phone support, as well as group learning opportunities and garden plan reviews, the program’s inaugural season in 2021 was a resounding success.
Luay Ghafari is an urban gardener, recipe developer, garden educator and founder of Urban Farm and Kitchen, a lifestyle and food blog centered around the garden to table movement. He specializes in urban garden design and high yield edible gardens. He works with clients both virtually and locally in Toronto to help them plan for large abundant harvests while promoting organic principles. He is active on social media and shares tips, tricks, recipes and more with his followers and focuses on garden education through his eBooks and the gardenologie Master Classes. When not in the garden, you will find him in the kitchen where he is cooking, preserving, drying and canning his harvests.
Melissa is the founder of the Good Seed, a multidisciplinary garden design firm that specializes in ecological edible and cut flower gardens. Her client roster includes families and celebrity chefs alike. Melissa is regularly featured on the Tonic Living podcast and is a garden columnist for Canadian Vegan Magazine. She is the co-founder of the Abermoray Garden Collective, a not for profit that grows organic harvests for families in Toronto with young children facing food insecurity. Having designed everything from balcony gardens to market gardens, Melissa understands the importance of a visually compelling outdoor space. A Year in the Urban Garden and other gardenologie offerings have been critical in showcasing how The Good Seed has been able to craft and create garden education. Having recently purchased a small farm in Prince Edward Island, Melissa splits her time between Toronto and the farm, where she can be found outdoors and in the garden with her partner and four children.
As one of our preferred seed suppliers, West Coast Seeds has played a pivotal role in the success of our personal gardens, and those of our clients and students. We look forward to collaborating and working with West Coast Seeds for years to come.