These days, gardeners everywhere are pulling out catalogs, planting seeds and planning for another growing season. So, in celebration of our First Year Anniversary, we salute some of the people we interviewed last year who know a lot about growing food and making a difference.

Making Food Gardens Sustainable and Beautiful

Joe Lamp'lTo learn more about the popularity of edible gardens, UC Food Observer assistant editor Teresa O’Connor spoke with Joe Lamp’l , one of the nation’s most recognized and trusted personalities in gardening and sustainability.

You may know Joe as the current Executive Producer and Host of the award-winning PBS series, Growing a Greener World.  The TV show features organic gardening, green living and farm-to-table food. During an interview recently, Joe assured us that the edible gardening trend isn’t going anywhere.

“The trend of growing your own food is hugely popular, but people want these edibles to look good, too. So, we’re seeing more edible plants worked into traditional landscapes. It’s an area of landscape design that is underserved, but becoming increasingly relevant. Even if you have a small garden, there’s still an opportunity to grow your own food. And if we all did a little more of that, it would make a huge difference in the quality of our lives and reduce the resources needed to transport that food elsewhere.”

Read more about Joe’s thoughts on sustainability trends.

Growing Food Indoors in Urban Environments

Robin Horton of Urban GardensPeople are embracing edible gardening in contemporary new ways that extend beyond just attractive landscaping, especially in the cities.  That’s what I learned from Robin Horton of the award-winning blog Urban Gardens, based in Santa Monica. She told us gardeners are now growing food indoors as well as outdoors:

“We’re seeing furnishings that double as edible gardens: Tables with wells that serve as edible gardens; indoor lamps that double as herb gardens; umbrella bases that do double duty as planters. This includes edible gardens or ‘farm kitchens,’ which integrate seamlessly into the kitchen design: snip and serve.”

back-to-roots-aquaponic-planterBack to the Roots Aqua Farm

In the same article, Theresa Loe explained how this renewed interest in growing food is also rekindling interests in traditional skills like preserving foods and saving seeds.

Theresa Loe of Growing A Greener World TVTheresa is the founder of where she teaches people to live farm fresh without a farm. Based in Los Angeles, she also is Co-Executive Producer and on-air Canning/Homesteading Expert for Growing A Greener World, working alongside Joe. She told us:

“People are looking for more ways to capture and capitalize on their flavorful produce by returning to their kitchens in search of canning, preserving and fermenting projects. They don’t want to waste their gardening efforts…”

Read more about edible garden trends from Robin, Theresa and LaManda Joy.

Teaching Chicago Residents to Grow Food and Cook

In Chicago, LaManda Joy wants to teach everyone how to grow their own food and cook. She founded the award-winning Peterson Garden Project in 2010 after becoming inspired by the World War II Victory Garden movement.

This community gardening program uses empty urban property to create short-term organic gardens, where thousands of peopleLaManda Joy of Peterson Garden Project in Chicago have learned how to grow their own food. Peterson Garden Project also operates a Community Cooking School to teach people how to cook. LaManda has served on the board of American Community Gardening Association and recently authored the book, Start a Community Food Garden.  She told us:

“Learning together in the garden and kitchen does much more than put fresh, nutritious food on the table. It helps build stronger communities, connect us to cultural heritage, improve public health and create a more sustainable, resilient city.”

Read more about Chicago’s Peterson Garden Project and community gardens in general.

Mobilizing Global Network of Kitchen Gardeners

Roger Doiron (@rogerdoiron), founder and director of Kitchen Gardeners International (KGI), told us about the power of global gardening networks. His Maine-based nonprofit network of more than 30,000 individuals from 120 countries is taking a hands-on approach to (re)localizing the food supply through gardening.

Roger Doiron Kitchen Gardeners InternationalYou may remember Roger from his successful outreach campaign to replant a kitchen garden at the White House.  The “Eat the View” effort in 2008 gathered more than 100,000 signatures, received international media coverage and was grand prize winner of the United Nations Foundation’s “On Day One” contest. Roger was named one of the country’s top five “Green Game Changers” by Huffington Post and among the “10 Most Inspiring People in Sustainable Food” by Fast Company magazine. He told us:

“I would … use my power to give every person easy access to a garden plot to call their own. It could be at school, at work or someplace close in their neighborhood. I think millions of people would take advantage of it to grow healthy food for themselves and their loves ones. I also believe that it could help launch a new generation of food and garden entrepreneurs.”

Read more about the White House garden and Kitchen Gardeners International.

Vintage Uncle Sam Poster from USDAMeanwhile, this 1917 poster of Uncle Sam promoting gardening “to cut food costs” reminds us that edible gardens have long been important to our nation’s health and well being. As our editor Rose Hayden-Smith explains about the poster published by the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

“These words are clearly meant to synthesize the interests of rural and urban Americans in a time when tensions ran high between them. Gardening was promoted as a unifying activity, a common call to service and a shared national goal.”

Nearly 100 years later, it’s clear that gardeners will continue to explore new and creative ways to grow food within their community and world, indoors or out. This is one healthy food trend we’ll be watching over this next year.  Stay tuned!