Black thumb? Think again. Edible landscape designer Lauri Kranz believes you can and should plant a veggie garden, stat. An educator and author (watch for her book, A Garden Can Be Anywhere, in the spring of 2019), Kranz knows that growing your own food is way more than a hobby. We chatted with her to learn why now is the best possible time to get your hands dirty.
Q. First, the obvious question: You can buy good food at the store and farmer's market. Why grow it?
Gardens matter so very much now on many levels — globally, personally, environmentally. Growing our own food is one of the most important acts we can do to care for ourselves and our community. Interacting with nature and turning soil over and just being very much tuned into all of the elements around us is so fortifying.
Q. What do you tell beginners who've never grown anything?
It's all about patience. We're so used to walking into the supermarket and anything we want we can have, right? With gardening, it's not the same. When you grow your own food you have to let go of those on-demand expectations, and really clear your slate for cooking what the garden's giving you in that moment. It gives you a profound respect for eating seasonally. It can be a hard transition, but then you realize the joy of eating a melon only in summer — there's nothing as sweet.
Q. Some of the seeds you use in your garden are from the nonprofit Seed Savers Exchange. Why is this important?
Where are we without the seed? Or, I would really say, where are we without good, non-GMO, organic, heirloom seeds? When I walk into a garden and all the lettuce is bolted and the broccoli has gone to seed, I see the natural life cycle of a plant in front of me. And it's so beautiful. Then we get to save those seeds and pass them on. When we make a school garden, a huge part of the lesson is that we start with a seed and we end with a seed. I've seen students start in kindergarten and then save seeds all the way up until they go off to high school. Seeds carry the history of the soil. The land and seeds are the key to the future, to a healthy future.
Q. You're also a musician. How does that passion connect to gardening?
Both music and gardening are creative pursuits that allow me to express myself. No two musicians will play the same piece of music in the same way and no two people will plant a garden in the same way. Yet they're also different. In music, you take control; in gardens, you are very much are at the mercy of nature. It's important to recognize this because in order to garden, you have to let go of control.
Q. What trends do you see in the gardening world?
People are wanting to have a garden much earlier in life — college students, people who are just starting off in their careers. Gardening is not just for older people anymore. Growing food is an essential way to live healthier, and also a way to connect with nature. My friends who are 20 years old and my clients who are grandparents are all excited to just be outdoors. It's the best. It's great medicine.
Lauri Kranz's responses are condensed and edited for length.