This guy may look more like a football coach but if I pointed that out I’d be stereotyping based on looks and
we don’t do that here, now do we? So I’ll just say he’s the gardening coach for the 35 Whole Foods stores in the DC area and I think that’s cool.
Though he calls himself a coach, Mark Smallwood’s official job title is Green Mission specialist for Whole Foods, which means he does lots of training and teaching. And in that vein, I recently heard him spread the gospel of growing food at Kathy Jentz’s seed exchange, where he bragged that the company now diverts 71 percent of their waste from landfills, with the goal of 90 percent by ’09. They actually have garbage audits. And he preaches "Less grass, more food." And this: "You don’t need pesticides anymore" because there are "natural organic replacements," which is kind of a misnomer – pesticides can be organic, after all – but we’ll let that pass. (Are we always perfectly precise in our language? I think not.)
More Whole Foods news: They’re selling fresh aerated compost tea at 15 stores in the D.C. area this year, part of their increased offering of lawn and garden products.
And this veggie-gardening coach gave all sorts of tips, like:
- Grow fast with slow – like beets and radishes.
- Grow high with low – maybe tomatoes with impatiens (wait – they’d have to be sun-loving impatiens, right?)
- Get into companion planting – Google it.
- Get into succession planting – Google it.
And I liked these quotes:
- "IPM is actually Integrated Pesticide Management."
- "Talk to your gardens. Listen to your gardens. Meditate in your gardens."
- And "Just email me with your questions. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org." (Try it and report to us!)
From the Green Action part of the Whole Foods website, here are some of their "eco action tips":
- Plant a Tree, seriously. A single tree can absorb one ton (2,000 pounds) of carbon dioxide over
its lifetime. One acre of tree cover in Brooklyn can compensate for
automobile fuel use equivalent to driving a car between 7,200 and 8,700
- Grow Your Own Plant a garden or a few pots of veggies without pesticides and chemical
fertilizers that can harm both human health and the environment. How
delightful to step out the back door and pick a ripe, organic tomato!
- Switch to Organics Organic
agriculture protects the health of all the earth’s inhabitants by
limiting input of toxic and persistent chemicals into the air, soil and
water. Organic methods support natural ecosystems by using long-term
farming solutions that help preserve the earth’s resources for future
- Start a Compost Pile in Your Yard As landfill space becomes increasingly scarce and expensive, composting
is an extremely valuable idea for reducing needless garbage. Composting
requires little effort and, in time, will create an earthy, crumbly
substance to help your plants flourish.
- Buy Local. Purchase locally grown food when possible to support independent, local
farms and the environment. They use fewer resources on their way to
your plate, and they’re usually fresher, too, since they’re typically
picked more recently.