By ANDRE GALLANT – published Saturday, February 16, 2013
“Few people are thinking about their gardens as February’s moody weather freezes, warms and cools again. Rather than amending soil and arranging planting schedules, just what clothes to wear during such shifty elements is perhaps the more pressing question.
But the wiry green thumbs at Hungry Gnome Gardenscapes never stop preparing and supporting vegetable gardens at homes around Athens. There’s always dirty work to be done.
And in February, the gnomes are scurrying around in rubber boots to clients’ homes to build garden beds, plant onions and ready soil for a busy spring and summer planting season. Healthy plants start with healthy soil, the Hungry Gnomes say.
Since 2009, Hungry Gnome Gardenscapes has been following a mission to empower people to grow their own food, and doing helping homeowners do so in their own backyards by setting up and maintaining gardens.
Homeowners call up Hungry Gnome for a variety of reasons, said owner Kevin Yates, “but a lot of them want a connection with where their food comes from and a connection to nature as experienced through their land.”
But today’s fast-paced lifestyle offers only easy digital connectivity and little time to dig into the earth. Yates said that most of his clients have a dearth of time, or a dearth of knowledge and experience with vegetable gardening.
“Depending on the client, it can be a combination of the two,” he said. “We build programs that span that continuum.”
Yates calls their services vegetable garden support programs.
For $60, a Hungry Gnome will come out and assess your land and offer his advice about how best to turn it into a productive edible landscape.
From there, Hungry Gnome has cheaper do-it-yourself packages aimed at gardeners who have some weekend time to help tend their plots. For $1,086, Hungry Gnome will set up soil and compost and plants four seasons of crops. They offer a Busy Bee package in which 90 percent of the gardening is performed by staff, leaving only harvesting to the homeowner. Around the middle of that spectrum in the Guided Gardener package. Yates and his staff will lay out, prep and plant the garden, and stop by through out the season to check in, but it’s the homeowner’s duty to water, weed, kill bugs and harvest. A 100-square-foot guided garden that’s full of sweet potatoes, tomatoes, okra and seasonal veggies all year round will cost $1,917, or roughly $160 a month. The largest edible landscape Hungry Gnome currently maintains is 350 square feet.
Every two weeks, Hungry Gnomes come by to add organic fertilizer and tend and replace any failing plants.
“It’s important to stress that a garden is a dynamic place,” Yates said. “There are a lot of variables.”
Often, garden emergencies that require a service call are the result of under-watering, Yates said. During initial conversations with clients about their future garden, Yates said he urges caution and asks homeowners to be honest with how much time and effort they can commit to the project. Yates and his staff will leave notes and written directions when they make their visits, and it’s up to the homeowner to keep up his or her side of the bargain. Yates has all clients sign a non-legal contract to help them address their desires and ability.
Yates said children often influence parents’ decisions to hire Hungry Gnome to start a vegetable garden. Many people, Yates said, grow up not knowing where their food comes from, and they don’t want their children sharing that experience.
“A lot of our clients have children,” Yates said, and a garden engages the next generation in an experience of nature.
For more information, visit www.hungrygnome.org or call (706) 206-3858.”
EvanGelical The Gnome