by Crystal Thornburg-Homcy
My husband Dave and I started our garden about five years ago. Now our garden operation is called Crave Greens. The name was inspired by the combination of Crystal and Dave. Our love for the natural environment and passion for cooking inspired us to get our hands dirty by growing as much of our own food as possible, and wanting to know exactly where our food was coming from. With the desire to bring fresh organic produce to the tables of friends and family, we hope to inspire others to start a small garden too.
We hope to show others in our community that you don't need a big space to grow your own food, or to give up your daily life either. If anything, growing an organic garden will only improve your well-being. Currently we have two, raised garden beds. One is 6×10 feet and the other is 8×12 feet. We spend an average of 4-8 hours a week in the garden.
We love being able to be part of the whole process of growing our own food, from the seed to mealtime. It has really made us appreciate fruits and vegetables more by knowing the time, love, and work it takes to grow food. It has also made us more aware of small family farmers and the passion that each farmer or gardener must have in order to grow produce. It's really fun to go to farmers markets and local health food stores or road-side stands to see what other farmers are growing and sharing with the community. We also became more aware of the energy and time that a single fruit or vegetable requires. Having that appreciation makes them taste that much better!
Being a professional athlete, one must stay healthy by eating the healthiest food possible. We are both able to travel the world for work which gives us the opportunity to learn from other farmers about their techniques for growing organic produce.
Over the years we have gathered information about how to grow organic produce from university classes, volunteering with various organizations, reading books and articles, trial and error, talking with friends and fellow gardeners, blogs, and videos. It is a constant learning opportunity, and it's so fun to gain as much knowledge about what we eat as possible.
For us, growing organic is the only option. Why would you want to put something toxic in or on something you are eating, or spray it in the environment, or add it to DNA that can't be washed off like conventional pesticides or herbicides? Reading as much as possible about the topic of non-organic farming and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is a great start to better understanding why growing organic is better for our health and the environment.
Organic gardening has its challenges just like any other type of gardening. Dealing with pests and weather conditions are always the hardest but we seem to adapt, and over the years we have learned what works or what does not work in our garden.
Crave Greens is not certified but we are organic. We make our own compost with garden and kitchen waste, as well as using worm vermicast for fertilizer and pesticide. We are currently growing arugula, beets, okra, collards, butter lettuce, kale, radish, green onion, Bhut Jolokia chili, habanero, Swiss chard, taro, pineapple, mint, oregano, rosemary, and turmeric. We like to rotate our garden beds and grow depending on what we feel like eating, and what grows best in our environment. We also have mango, lime, lemon, grapefruit, tangerine, avocado, lychee, cacao, and fig trees.
We have a list of clients we work with and depending on how plentiful our garden may be those clients will end up with what we have growing at that moment. We specialize in organic greens. When we have them growing up to our ears we bike around to friends and neighbors selling $5 bags, or we’ll park at our favorite surf spots and sell them out of a cooler from the back of our truck. Crave Greens is a very informal operation, and we like to keep it that way due to our lifestyle.
Crave Greens provides the people of Haleiwa, Hawaii, registered clients, private chefs, community-supported agriculture (Meleana's Farm CSA), Opal Thai, Bonzer Front, Cafe Haleiwa, Billabong North Shore House, Action Sports Environmental Coalition, and Luibuenos, to name a few, with a variety of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices.
You can follow all our garden happenings on our blog: Crave Greens.