The Food Garden Life Show is an award-winning show that celebrates food gardens, food, family, community, and a slightly slower life.
Host Emma Biggs is a 15-year-old, Gen-Z gardener with driveway and rooftop gardens. Co-host Steven Biggs is a horticulturist, author, and college instructor.
Monthly podcasts from their live radio show include Emma’s Tomato-Talk segment and Steven’s Biggs-on-Figs segment. Weekly podcast episodes include talks with gardeners pushing the boundaries of food gardening.
Backyard Urban Farming in Toronto
We chat with Arlene Hazzan Green and Marc Green, co-owners of The Backyard Urban Farm Company (BUFCO) in Toronto about their mission to help people grow food at home.
They are edible landscapers who help people plan, plant, and maintain food gardens. They have even ventured into wheelchair-accessible beds.
From Film to Farming
Hazzan Green explains why, after over 30 years in the film industry, they decided to venture into the business of edible landscaping, saying, “It was the lifestyle it was offering us that had such an appeal.”
In hindsight, she realized that a lot of the film scripts she had been pitching had a farming theme. “I realized that what I was trying to do in my writing was create the life that I want to live,” she says.
Hunger Relief through Growing
We head to San Diego, California to chat with Mim Michelove and Nan Sterman, who share a love of growing food and involvement in food activism.
As unemployment in their community grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the local food supply became shaky, they decided to use their connections with commercial growers, in the community, and with social service agencies to help people feed themselves. The result was the Grab & Grow Gardens (https://www.healthydaypartners.org/grab-and-grow-info) program.
Grab & Grow Gardens
The Grab & Grow Gardens (https://www.healthydaypartners.org/grab-and-grow-info)kits contain two transplant-size vegetable seedlings in a carry bag, along with growing instructions in English and Spanish. “We do this in Mim’s backyard,” explains Sterman, as she talks about assembling the kits with a small army of volunteers.
Kits are distributed to those in need through hunger relief agencies, school districts, and affordable housing organizations.
At the time of the interview in February, 2021, they had distributed over 8,500 kits.
Initially, everything for the kits was donated. Securing donations of vegetable transplants was possible because they are located in an area with a large vegetable-transplant industry.
As demand for the kits grew, and as they were able to access grants and donations, they began to purchase seed, allowing them to choose the most suitable crops and varieties.
Crater Garden, Regenerative Farm and Family
We head to Montana to chat with Tim Southwell of ABC Acres, the permaculture homestead he and his his wife Sarah created.
Southwell, who grew up in suburban Houston, explains that it was while living in Kansas City and growing a front-yard vegetable garden that he was introduced to permaculture and many of the concepts that he uses today on the farm.
In addition to livestock, they have a crater garden, a food hedge, chinampas, and a sunken greenhouse with citrus, bananas, figs, and papaya.
The unique microclimate created by the crater garden permits them to grow apples, peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots in their harsh climate. He explains, “Every fruit tree we have, we build with it a microclimate.”
We chat with Vermont garden educator and radio host Charlie Nardozzi (https://www.gardeningwithcharlie.com/), who discusses his journey into no-dig gardening—and why it’s good for gardeners, the soil, and the environment.
He also tells us about his new book, The Complete Guide to No-Dig Gardening.
Nardozzi hasn’t always been a no-dig gardener. He used to garden with a gas-guzzling tiller. He shares ideas for gardeners who want to create a new no-till garden, as well as ideas about how gardeners with existing beds can transition them into a no-till system.
In the fig segment, we chat with a New York fig grower who has "stepover" figs. In the tomato segment, we explore the idea of "keeper" tomatoes.
Youth and Gardening
What inspires youth and children to garden? In today's show we speak with a 15-year-old on a mission to inspire other teens to garden, and find out about an organization helping people garden with children.
We speak with 15-year-old gardener Vivien Wong in New York State, who fills her small suburban yard with fruit and vegetables. She has been documenting her gardening journey with the goal of inspiring other teens to grow their own food. Along the way, she won a prize at the fair!
In the second half of the show we chat with Em Shipman, Executive Director of Kids Gardening, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to get kids gardening.
“It’s our job and our passion to support those people that we know are working really hard to provide important, meaningful education opportunities for kids,” says Shipman.
The Kids Gardening website (https://kidsgardening.org)has lesson plans, ideas for activities, and information about grants for community and school gardens.
Breeding Tomatoes for the "Holy Grail"
With a reputation for unusual and wildly popular tomato varieties, tomato breeder Brad Gates focuses above all else on flavour.
He didn’t start out working in tomato breeding. While working in the landscape industry, he was asked by a friend to help sell heirloom tomatoes at a farmers market. Gates loved the energy at the market—and he was fascinated with the unusual heirloom tomatoes.
So he started growing, and, eventually, breeding tomatoes.
“I was looking for the holy grail that would have my customers come crawling back on their hands and knees.”