Damrosch to busy locavores:
Hire someone to tend your garden


Damrosch_2Next let’s consider Barbara Damrosch’s advice to locavores everywhere:  Start your own garden.  No surprise there,
coming as it does from the author of Garden Primer, the much-recommended Bible for beginning veggie-growers.  My own copy is in the mail (31 cents used from Amazon, plus shipping).

And ever practical, she concedes that locavores are often too busy or arthritic to do all that work themselves.

So here’s a solution:  Hire somebody to install one for you and return weekly to tend it.  If you’re a busy person, you may already employ a cleaning service, lawn service or a landscaper. Why not a foodscaper?  It’s another expense, but one that pays for itself at least in part by putting food on the table, and the freshest possible food at that.

The article goes on to nominate foodscaping as the "job opportunity of 2008".  Readers, what do we think?


  1. I’m not sure it would work to hire someone weekly – it takes a lot more vigilance than that to grow food. And more than weekly might get to be a pricey lot of vegetables….so like many wonderful things in life maybe for the very rich. A cool idea though.

    By the way, it looks like the cover of The Garden Primer here has an updated photo of Barbara Damrosch. On my copy she’s about 20 years younger, in a very similar pose. She looks great still – a testament to the many side benefits of gardening!

  2. What a great idea, Susan. Getting a new garden started can be a lot of work even for a small plot. Sod busting and all. But with careful setting up, good paths and mulching, tending it should be manageable – and perhaps seductive enough to send a new gardener down a whole new road. Considering how much money people spend on their lawns, the cost is not necessarily great. Thanks for a shift in perspective.

  3. I love the Garden Primer and have given it to many friends over the years–not one of whom began gardening. The one fault of that book is its size and density. Damrosch makes it all sound harder than it really is. This point of view may explain her current advice.

    Yes, I think if you are not going to do it yourself, by all means, hire somebody. Exclude the cost of making the garden, and on a weekly basis, you’d probably come out ahead.

    I saw a piece recently in H&G about Gwyneth Paltrow’s (ugly) house in the Hamptons. It mentioned a vegetable garden. I seriously doubt she’s out there getting dirty.

    On the other hand, my experience of hired help is that unless you can afford real pros, the whole thing is a fantasy. I’ve tried at various points to hire teenaged boys at $10 an hour for a little assistance. Useless doesn’t begin to describe it.

  4. I think she is right about this job category which could include working with the younger client’s little children to introduce them to the joys of gardening. How expensive is day care these days?

  5. Hiring someone to do the garden work sounds like a good idea, but she obviously has no idea how difficult it is to find that help in some parts of the country. My mother has been trying for years to get a gardener to help her with her small suburban garden. She’s found a couple of good people, but they end up moving away, & the search begins anew. If she had a large garden, she might have better luck. Last year she hired her lawn care company to do work in her garden. Horrible! I spent more time trying to undo their mistakes & destruction than they spent doing it in the 1st place.

  6. One could hire All Edibles, an East Bay, California “foodscaping” landscape firm, to install a front yard food garden. I have seen one of their front yard gardens in Berkeley – it looks yummy and ready to eat.

  7. I am thinking along the lines of incorporating veggies into my flower beds.

    A friend of mine that grows a lot of their own veggies has been after me about this for a couple of years because I am always saying I would like fresh veggies but hate to start a garden dedicated to veggies. I usually got to the farmers market during summer and of course my friend fills in the gaps.

  8. I cringed when I read her story in Thursday’s Wash Post – knowing the fall out will be ME getting 100+ calls and emails now demanding references to said edible gardeners. I know ZERO – I don’t think responsible reporters should offer a service without listings of where one could secure such a person. If any in the WDC area offers this service, please contact me.

  9. What about sharing that space with some people not so fortunate to have space to garden? There’s usually a shortage of community garden space and no shortage of apartment-bound or yardless gardeners.
    If need be, hire the yardless gardener. Most veggie gardens can produce prodigously enough to feed more than the family, especially if you plant more than one zucchini.

  10. Interesting to read that there are already companies providing this service in the states and that the phrase ‘foodscaper’ is catching on. I have just begun the launch of a similar service in the SE of England and there are only a few competitors. If Gwyneth Paltrow wants her London house brought up to veg speed maybe she will give me a call! I can put up with a little Coldplay in the background!

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