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Posted on Jan 10, 2011

How Franchises like groOrganic are Teaching America to Garden

The organic and urban / suburban gardening movements are growing more and more rapidly with each day, and all that buzz has created an enthusiastic audience of would-be green thumbs looking for real experts to show them how this whole backyard gardening thing is supposed to be done.

Innovative businesses like the groOrganic franchise system and organizations like Leave It Better are filling that gap through hands-on education and services aimed at helping ordinary people (and businesses) learn how to take cultivation of the soil and the enjoyment of organic, healthy food into their own hands.

Increasingly, we find that ordinary people are putting seeds in the soil, caring for those seeds and, after some time, harvesting fruits and vegetables from their own back yards and community gardens. It’s an exciting, simple, and healthy approach that has started to move into the mainstream, even gaining a foothold in our education system.  Schools, for example, are beginning to teach youth how to garden, and even incorporating food grown by students into the lunch served in the school’s cafeteria. The organization I’m a part of, Leave It Better, is putting gardens in 10 schools in New York, NY this year, and giving students video cameras so they can share the story as they learn.  We’re educating about 1,000 students this school year alone on how to compost and garden!

But as is human nature, whenever there’s a sudden outburst of strong emotional support for a movement, as there is today for green and organic gardening, a lot of people come on board who simply don’t know what they’re doing. The enthusiastic outnumber the knowledgeable. Of course it's great to have enthusiasm - in fact, it’s absolutely necessary for any meaningful social change to take place; however, enthusiasm without knowledge usually results in mistakes and frustration, and that's hardly a recipe for sustainable action.

Beginning gardeners often haphazardly buy 2x4s and build a raised bed without a proper design, or embark on ambitious construction projects without knowledge of what it takes to keep their new garden going once the raised bed has been built.  That’s where a company like the recently launched groOrganic gardening franchise comes in: founded in 2009, groOrganic provides its clients with the raw materials needed to start a garden, but more importantly, the company provides on-the-ground people who know how to maintain and cultivate fruits and vegetables in a backyard garden setting.  Now, instead of watching a YouTube video or reading an article that may or may not directly apply to their gardening issues, groOrganic clients engage directly with experts who are intimately familiar with their particular region, climate, and the crops that they're looking to grow. This can be the crucial difference between a successful, flourishing urban / suburban garden and a withered clump of soil and seeds.

It’s exciting to be a part of a growing movement - what some are calling a fundamental revolution in our food.  Most of us were never taught what composting was, and a lot of us don’t know if a potato is planted in May or July, or if peppers grow underground or above.  These days, however, you don’t have to let your lack of knowledge stop you. Dive in! There are a lot of businesses, organizations, and people out there ready to help, plenty of tools available for you, and at the end of the day, there are few things as satisfying, or as healthy, as eating a fresh sun-gold cherry tomato that you grew yourself from a tiny seed.

This FranchiseHelp guest post was authored by Graham Meriwether, a New York City based documentary journalist, director and producer, and the founder of Leave It Better. Leave It Better's goal is to tell the stories of those people who are actively working to leave their communities better for the present, and subsequently, for future generations. Graham's work has appeared on PBS, A&E, France3 and Current, among other popular media.

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