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Conversations with Ryan

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ryan.

Hi Ryan, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I grew up in North San Diego County and attended San Marcos High School. After high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do. All I knew was that I wanted to live on my own and out of my parents’ house. I found a small organic farm in North Escondido called “La Milpa Organica” that would let me work and live there. You could say it was working and operating an organic farm, but it was so much more than that. It was a home for so many different kinds of people, from anarchist punks to hippies to indigenous people and immigrants. This is where I learned about growing food and community. When I left the farm, I was a food grower for life. But I wondered what skills I would need to start my own farm? Over the period of the next ten years, I began building my skills as a well-rounded farmer. I worked for multiple plumbing companies building my skills with water and irrigation. As well as various other farms around san Diego county, In 2019 working for an aquaculture company in Vista, which isn’t a job I would wish on anybody. It was the epitome of a dead-end job. Empty promises, micromanaging, the constant discrediting of abilities and skills.

When Covid-19 first arrived in the U.S. in April 2020, companies all over the country were hit hard, having to lay off their employees. This company was no exception, and I was the first to be laid off. But, I thought to myself, if these guys can run a company, I definitely can. I had the idea that maybe I could start a company building gardens for people in their homes and showing them how to grow their own food. I took every bit of unemployment money I had and invested it in tools, a new vehicle, and advertising. On top of building the gardens, I take care of them as well, running a weekly and bi-weekly maintenance route. Edible gardening is the landscaping of the future. Having a nice garden is cool. But what is even cooler is a nice garden you can eat.

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
Definitely not. I’ve had to learn some major lessons when it comes to running this business. One of the biggest struggles has been learning where to source all of my products. I’ve had to go through a lot of different companies and farming products to find what works best for me. Living on a big farm where you can make your own compost is one thing, but figuring out which company makes the best compost and where it’s available is another.

In urban farming, there is no room for error. If your customer has two garden beds and one bed doesn’t do well, 50% of their garden failed. On a farm, if one row of corn doesn’t do so well, it’s not the end of the world. Most likely, you will have many more. It’s also amazing how many different microclimates we have within San Diego. A garden in del mar will have much different watering requirements than a garden in Chula Vista, so learning the specific needs of everyone’s garden has been part of my struggle as well.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
The complete set-up of edible gardens. The building of the garden itself, the irrigation, bringing in the right soil, planting by the seasons, and maintaining the garden to stay beautiful. I would say we specialize in the plumbing and irrigation aspects of the job. My experience allows me to create complex systems of irrigation that run off minimal water use. That’s huge here in San Diego. It also almost impossible to find an edible landscaper that can also re-pipe your entire backyard if needed. Usually, you find one or the other. This makes me proud, and I feel it sets this company apart from others.

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
I was amazed at the amount of support I had from my friends when I started. I had friends who did marketing, accounting, litigation. They have all stepped in and offered their help. I don’t think I could have built this without their support. They’ve believed in me from the beginning and are genuinely happy for my success. It’s important to surround yourself with good people. But also, every grumpy plumber I ever worked with. Those guys don’t cut you a break, but if you pay attention, you can learn a lot. But the ones who taught me the most would be the indigenous workers I stood beside in the fields. They taught me how to work hard and how to have a relationship with the land. Not to necessarily become one with the land, but learn to respect it and work with it.

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