The Farmer's Garden is a social enterprise. What's a social enterprise? According to the BC Center for Social Enterprise it is a revenue-generating businesses with a twist. A social enterprise has two goals: to achieve social, cultural, community economic or environmental outcomes; and, to earn revenue.
Several years ago, I tried vegetable gardening in one 3 foot by 6 foot cedar raised bed to save money and become more self-sufficient. I was thrilled with the results and discovered a passion for vegetable gardening. The following year, I enrolled in my State Cooperative Extension System Master Gardener program to increase my gardening knowledge.
Since then, I have built many additional raised beds on the west side and behind my house. I grow more varieties of vegetables every year and even built a cold frame so that I can grow greens year-round. I usually pick more produce than I can eat, freeze, dehydrate and give away. I soon realized that it makes me really happy to give my extra vegetables away to my family, friends and neighbors. If I go to someone's house during peak harvest season, there's a good chance I'll be bringing some extra food.
One evening, I met a few friends at a local restaurant for dinner. I brought a bag of mixed greens for each person and handed them out on the sidewalk outside the restaurant after dinner. Yes, I really carried my own produce into a restaurant, but hid it in a canvas bag away from the eyes of the waitstaff. My friends were thrilled and immediately started planning what they were each going to do with their salad mix. For me, this was the best part of the evening.
People seem genuinely happy to receive a bag of mixed greens or a zucchini and their happiness reflects back onto me. As the saying goes - one of the most difficult things to give away is kindness; it usually comes back to you.
That lead to the idea of creating The Farmer's Garden. I originally started the website in 2009 as a hobby and a way for others to share their excess produce. In 2012, I entered a Start Up Weekend business competition and won the social enterprise award. This made me believe that my idea could become a viable business.
I have expanded my original idea of just sharing excess produce to building local communities of gardeners across the country. I also want people to share their harvest with food banks so that more people have access to fresh homegrown produce.
Please join me in The Farmer's Garden community and help to spread the word about the rewards of gardening and let more people see for themselves how delicious just picked in-season produce can be.
Maureen Farmer, Founder