The Growing Home began as a simple home garden in 2009, with the idea that the easiest way to change the world is to start in your own life. At that time, Manju and Rishi Kumar (the mother and son team that founded The Growing Home) had become concerned about the food available in stores, the affect industrial agriculture was having on American society, and the immense amount of pollution and waste created by large-scale farming. Their first step was to create a small backyard garden, which would provide a good selection of fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs. After the success of the first garden, they decided to remove their entire lawn to make more room for food plants in 2009. In 2011, The Growing Home officially opened as an educational demonstration site.
Since 2011, the mission and goals of The Growing Home have shifted several times. Initially, the goal was to grow as much food as possible. Since then, we have come to understand that the role of an urban farm should not be to simply grow food, but to inspire, educate, and enrich our community through the research and development of ideas, tools, and models which can create and develop sustainable communities of the future. In search of our goal, The Growing Home strives to be a community resource where ideas can be created, developed, and exchanged.
The Growing Home is continually being added to, modified, and adapted. We strive to create a low-cost model to effectively retrofit the suburban tract home into an urban ecosystem, where multitudes of life forms can live harmoniously and abundantly.
Heavily sloped lands can be difficult to manage and also do a poor job of retaining water. Terraces, created using recycled materials, can easily turn sloped terrains into easier to manage stepped gardens, where water is conserved, soil is built, and management is easy.
Green walls, created using deciduous vining plants, are a great way to cool an area and grow food. Plants such as grape vines, which create a green canopy in the summer months and drop their leaves in the winter, can shade & cool a sitting area or a wall of a building, while at the same time providing delicious fruit for people, animals, and insects.
The water that drains down to the sewer from our washing machines, bathroom sinks, and showers is often quite clean. This water can easily be diverted into our gardens to be used for growing food or other useful plants. Such greywater systems can provide a variety of benefits to our homes and gardens, and are often very simple to set up. Our most simple systems include an outdoor sink and outdoor shower (pictured), which drain directly into our garden.
Chickens are an urban garden’s best friend. Chickens are easy to keep, low-maintenance, and provide a variety of benefits for a garden: they love to eat weeds and excess produce, they eat garden bugs and slugs, they provide wonderful manure that can be used as a fertilizer, and THEY LAY EGGS! Having animals running around your garden also adds a wonderful lively dimension to it.
Insects and animals (which pollinate and fertilize our gardens) often have difficulty access pure, clean water in a suburban setting. Most often, only chlorinated pool water is available. By installing a small pond (like the one pictured), we can provide fresh, clean drinking water to all of the life forms which inhabit and enrich our gardens. Small ponds are also easily installed and maintained if placed in the right location and filled with the appropriate plants.
Most vegetables eaten in America are annuals (plants that need to be grown from seed every year), due to the European ancestry of early Americans. Warmer climates, such as Southern California, are much more suited to the cultivation of perennial vegetables: food plants that grow for 3 years or longer. Examples of easy-to-grow perennial vegetables include tree collards (pictured), sorrel, new zealand spinach, artichokes, sunchokes, and much much more!
Fruit trees and vines are among the easiest and funnest plants to grow. When planted in the correct location, and properly fed and watered, fruit trees can provide immense amounts of food year after year after year. The orchard at The Growing Home now contains over 50 fruiting trees and vines (including many rare fruits), from mango to cherimoya to guava to pomegranate.
Bees are the backbone of any healthy, diverse garden. California has one of the most diverse bee populations in the world, from carpenter bees to mason bees to honey bees. Providing habitat, food, and water for all the varieties of our native bees is important to having good pollination of many fruiting crops. Pictured to the left is our honey bee hive, where over 50,000 honeybees live that pollinate our trees and provide us with pounds of honey.