Sunday, July 22, 2012

My First Year on the BathroomFarm

It's been a year and a week since I planted the wall on my BathroomFarm and it has been a wonderful year indeed. My landlord bolted a flooring scrap for a better nailable surface on the wall of my bathroom during post fire renovations. I filled various beverage containers with dollar store dirt and barely thriving seedlings, hung them up and turned on my homemade BathroomFarm lamp.

This first year has been quite a learning experience which is fine because I am the Queen of Failing Forward and willing to learn from every mistake and try anything a couple of times. I have gone from an inexperienced gardener with not one clue to actually eating food from my garden. I've read zillions of books and blog posts and Googled every stupid gardening question ever asked. And, I keep doing it because I believe that it is 100% possible to empower yourself by gardening even if you you have no yard, no experience, no traditional gardening tools and no money.

The BathroomFarm is designed to be a very low cost, almost no cost venture. Many urban people are finding themselves without a source of fresh food these days and many people are also finding themselves in financial situations they have never expected. That's why I designed my garden with simple and inexpensive materials and use grocery store and dollar store seeds. Food producing plants and seeds can be purchased with food stamps if the retailer accepts them as a form of payment. It was an exciting moment to become a partner with and help spread the word that food stamps grow gardens.

It's true that gardens require more than seeds, so I raised the money to buy things my garden needed (like the materials for my garden light and some products like peat moss and Perlite to make my dirt better) by having a yard sale and earning gift certificates answering surveys online to demonstrate that resources can manifest to support the needs of a garden without stressing a budget. By Christmas, the fruits of my labors were starting show!

I was inspired to learn more and work harder to get more of these positive results. I am studying the needs of each plant and making the conditions as optimum as possible because the goal is to have a variety of fresh food all year long in a compact space. The really interesting thing about container gardening indoors is that plants with proper care can live a very, very long time without needing to be replaced. The only reason many die after one season outside is because of the change in the weather.

Thousands and thousands of people follow @BathroomFarmer on twitter. As soon as they stop laughing, they click "follow" because there are so many good reasons to grow your own food. The price of food is always going up and the questionable quality of food these days has people very concerned. I have a solution for many people who thought a traditional garden was just not possible. I do not believe in *not possible*! Growing bell peppers indoors is not possible, they say. If you need to be really, really impressed, this little pepper is growing indoors and upside down from a beverage bottle upcycled into a wall pocket!

I pollinated that pepper blossom with a paintbrush on the way out of the door to speak at the first ever Indianapolis Food Independence Day event at Earth House. It's such a good idea to come together as a community and share ideas about growing and eating better food as a community because it does inspire positive cultural shifts in the community. The good word about personal empowerment by gardening was further spread in print and online articles in Indianapolis' NUVO newsweekly! Speaking at the event was good, but attending was even better. There were so many great ideas shared that day, I will keep quite busy on the BathroomFarm until the next Food Independence Day.

So here's my year old BathroomFarm and such a wonderful garden it has become with plenty of room to grow. This is probably one of the best and certainly one of the most unusual ideas I have ever had. I'm really proud of the results so far, but, most of all, I just love to let it be. All  gardens are such wonderful things. I grew this myself. From seed. With faith. Just like the real farmers do.

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