The mission of Heart Beet Gardening is to promote food security, sustainable
gardening practices, and urban agriculture by enabling households to have their own vegetable gardens. By building and maintaining vegetable gardens for our clients we give households independence from the commercial food system and increase accessibility to fresh, organic produce.
We believe that there is enormous potential in the world for city-dwellers to grow their own food. Here in Los Angeles we are blessed with good growing weather all year, sunshine nearly everyday, and millions of homes with ample yard space. Meanwhile so many of our children (and adults) grow up without a real knowledge of where our food comes from, the joy of growing something yourself, or how tasty a healthy diet can be. At Heart Beet we like to imagine how much food could be grown if we replaced lawns with gardens, and how that could positively affect the lives of so many people, not to mention decrease the ecological footprint of our city.
We are continuously investigating ways to expand our services and make our gardens more equitable and available to everyone. Check out our news page for updates about new ideas and projects we’re working on.
Read more about urban agriculture.
We strive to make our gardening practices as sustainable as possible. Our gardens are completely organic, utilizing no chemical fertilizers or pesticides. In addition, our methods are based on the principle that a garden is also an ecosystem. We plant according to the nutrient needs of each plant and the proper rotation of crops. We interplant with herbs and flowers to discourage pests, ensure that our soil is healthy and well-amended with compost, and that our gardens provide a good habitat for beneficial insects and pollinators. Companion planting, the John Jeavons double-digging and bio-intensive method, and permaculture are among the methods that we utilize.
Another key part of an ecological garden is maintaining a cyclical flow of nutrients. In a natural system, there is no waste: dead plants are decomposed and their nutrients are re-used by new plant growth. Today in the city, most of that valuable plant “waste” is thrown into a landfill. For the sake of our gardens and our own household sustainability, our clients have the option of installing their own compost bin to recycle their kitchen scraps, or to have their compostables collected and used by us in our Compost Program. We make our compost with inputs from all our garden households, and when it’s ready we use it to amend those same gardens and new ones. Anyone can be a member of the Compost Program, not just garden clients.
Our gardens often involve some type of small building project, most often the construction of raised beds. While no building material is perfect, we strive to use the most low-impact materials we can find. All wood we use is certified as sustainably harvested, and we have also used alternative products such as recycled plastic lumber. We would love opportunities for re-used materials and found objects, and are open to suggestions and experimentation with sustainable building materials.
One of the major limiting factors here in Los Angeles is water. With our scarce water resources, it is important that our gardens use the minimum water required to maintain a healthy garden. We heavily mulch all of our gardens at planting and install drip irrigation systems in all gardens where it is appropriate. We are constantly researching techniques to reduce our water usage.
We also strive to do our small part to conserve agricultural biodiversity. For long term sustainability, it is important to grow more than just the same old variety of corn or carrots. We grow many of our own seedlings from open-pollinated and heirloom seeds from seed companies who have diversity conservation and sustainable practices in mind. See our links to some of our favorite seed companies and information about biodiversity. We also save seed from all of our gardens each season. Our hope is not only to develop our own independent seed stock, but also to preserve the varieties that do best here in our own micro-climate. Anyone can be a member of our Heart Beet Seed Exchange, click here to find out more.
We are always looking for ways to reduce our own ecological footprint and to run our business more sustainably. We hope to expand the compost co-op and seed exchange, maximize our water conservation, and get all of our mulch and other materials from local sources. We hope to someday have a veggie-oil powered truck, thus reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions about the sustainability of our operations, please contact us.
Megan has been an avid backyard vegetable gardener since her childhood years. She earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies from Oberlin College and she has spent time volunteering on organic farms in Costa Rica and Ecuador. Megan is an enthusiast of urban agriculture and seed preservation and hopes to further study agricultural development. If she were a vegetable she would be a scarlet runner bean.
Kathleen first learned to transplant in pre-school and has been finding ways to make things grow ever since, despite a hopelessly shady backyard. She graduated from Oberlin College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a focus on Environmental Education. Kathleen has built and tended gardens with kids all the way from Ohio, to the San Fernando Valley, and hopes to create many more gardens and inspire many more gardeners. If she were a vegetable she would be a snap pea.
Sara has found a recent interest in gardening, and has jumped in full-force. She earned her B.A. from Bard College in Creative Writing and Spanish and has since spent her time as an educator at New Roads Elementary. If she were a vegetable she would be a carrot.