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Growing Number Of Houston’s Vegetables Coming From Private Gardens

One company offers to turn Houstonians’ front yards into vegetable gardens.

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William Birch in front of his herb and vegetable garden at his River Oaks townhome.

William Birch never thought about gardening.

But when he bought a townhouse in River Oaks two years ago, he wanted to do something different with his unappealing front yard.

“Kind of looking at this space and thinking to myself, is there anything great about the yard I have,” he said, “and do I really want to pay somebody to come by and cut my grass once a week and maintain this for me?”

He came across Edible Earth Resources at a gardening convention. The company plants and maintains vegetable gardens for property owners.

“One of the thoughts I had at the time was, instead of having just grass out here, could I do a garden, could I do something like this?” Birth said. “And they said, ‘Absolutely!’”  

Now Birch’s front yard is covered by all kinds of different herbs, vegetables, and fruits.

Birch keeps most of it for himself. For a reduced maintenance fee, he leaves some to the company, which sells their share to local restaurants.

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Birch’s garden features many different types of herbs, vegetables and some fruits.

Dany Millikin is the co-founder of Edible Earth Resources. He and a partner started the business in 2007.

“It’s been pretty much progressive growth since then and we’re busier than we’ve ever been,” he said. “And I think people do have a mind towards growing their own, getting better produce than they can buy. And then just kind of the bang for the buck with the fruit tree appeals to a lot of people.”

Besides selling to restaurants, the company is also getting more and more requests to plant gardens for Houston eateries.

Carol Burton sees a similar trend toward more interest in gardening. Burton is a director at Urban Harvest, a nonprofit that helps set up community gardens and farmer’s markets.

She said people are discovering the benefits of using home-grown produce.

One is that you don’t have to worry about reduced vitamin content because of the time it takes for a fruit or vegetable to make it from the farm to the supermarket and finally your table.

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Birch wanted a different kind of front yard for his townhome in River Oaks.

“The food is alive, so to speak, right after you pick it,” Burton said. “And the longer it sits on the shelf, then the vitamin content basically decreases.”

In the case of William Birch and his townhouse garden, it’s almost more about having an original-looking front yard with the added benefit that he can eat it.

“As you can see, it’s doing very well,” Birch said.

To see what the garden looks like, tune in to PBS NewsHour Weekend Saturday, July 19, at 6 p.m. on TV 8.

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Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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