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Making the Market: Pam of Together We Grow Gardens

 In our new series, "Making the Market," we will be introducing you to some of the crafters, farmers, musicians, and artisans who attend our markets. We hope you enjoy learning more about the "makers" in our community!

Pam and Mike Roberts, founders of Together We Grow Gardens

Pam and Mike Roberts, founders of Together We Grow Gardens

How did Together We Grow Gardens get started? Together We Grow Gardens is a non-profit business which began in 2011 as one small community garden.  We started as a way to provide garden plots for people in our community who often are in need of food, may not have transportation and don't have a lot of fresh food options close to home. 

I left my job as Associate Director at Mental Health America when I realized that this business was growing so quickly that I needed to do it full-time.  It's been two years since I have received a paycheck, but it has been two of my happiest years! 

Spring break clean-up crew. 

Spring break clean-up crew. 

You've grown a lot over the years. What are you up to now? Today, we have 4 community gardens, 3 school gardens, and are opening up our brand new solar-powered greenhouse on Friday, April 28th at 10:00, at Heritage Middle School, 600 Arlington Avenue, Newark.  This greenhouse will be home to three separate programs: Victory Gardens for Veterans (Thursdays from 1-3 pm), Power of Plants Educational Program for at-risk middle and high school students (Wednesdays from 9:30 -11:30 am), and Here We Grow Gardens for adults with developmental disabilities (Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays).

What is it about farming that made you decide to start Together We Grow GardensMy husband and I have always loved to garden.  Not only do you get delicious healthy food, but it's also SO relaxing and fulfilling!

What growing practices do you use at the gardens? Together We Grow Gardens is not certified organic, but we take a lot of pride in never using chemicals to grow our produce.  We do just about everything with volunteers or individuals who are in need of community service.  Lots of great relationships have been established with the community service folks.  Mentoring and showing someone another way of life is one of the most rewarding parts of this program! 

Tell us something unique and fun about your products. One of our newest ventures is making and selling OH MY GOSH BOKASH!  Bokashi is a Japanese word that means "fermented organic matter".  Like composting, it breaks down organic waste into a rich soil amendment, but Bokashi takes around one month to break down into microbe-rich humus, rather than the typical 6-9 months that it takes a traditional compost heap to break down.  We would like to see everyone making their own Bokashi in order to 1) redirect food out of landfills, 2) reduce greenhouse emissions, and 3) restore life to the earth's soil!

We will be selling OH MY GOSH BOKASH! starter kits, inoculant, potting soil, microbe serum, red wiggler worm bins, worm kits, and worm castings...all at the Canal Market District Farmer's Market.

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What's your favorite thing to grow? Personally, my favorite thing is potatoes.  Not only do you have a pretty plant to look at all season, but it's like digging for GOLD when you dig out the potatoes! This year, we are going to grow Yukon Gold, All Reds and Purple potatoes.  Should be fun! Two other fun crops we are growing this year are yard-long green beans and purple green beans.  I can't wait to see them and eat them!