Home gardening blooms, grows community

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Home gardening blooms, grows community
Santa Ana-based Heirloom Potager booming, coaching others on how to grow food at home

SANTA ANA -- Ashley Irene, certified landscape designer and culinary gardener, gave our cameras a close up look at her front yard turned into a beautiful edible garden.

"One of my neighbors just casually said, you know, you could do this as a business?" said Irene. "And so I just kind of put a couple of feelers out, and sure enough, there was demand. And so it kind of started from there."

Irene now teaches foodies and chefs how to grow edible ecosystems in their yards successfully.

"It allows us to change our relationship with food and with nature," Irene explained. "We start to become interested in what we're putting into the soil. And in turn, how that goes into our bodies."

Her landscape company called Heirloom Potager transforms spaces into kitchen gardens through one-on-one coaching.

"Heirlooms and history have always really intrigued me," said Irene. "Moreso about the connection to the past. There's something I think that's amazing about knowing that we could be growing something and eating things that our ancestors had."

Irene launched her culinary garden design business last year, right in the middle of the pandemic.

"This is a way to change the world," said Irene. "One garden can really inspire a whole neighborhood."

Her love of gardening and inherited "green thumb" comes from growing up on her family's 40-acre farm in Wisconsin.

"I killed so many plants," said Richard Chiarini, who recently hired Irene to help his Santa Ana home gardens flourish. "I love to garden but actually don't know what I'm doing."

"My grandmother was really the first person who inspired me to garden like this," said Irene. "I never realized that people didn't know that was how you garden."

Discover the love of gardening and heirloom produce by visiting HeirloomPotager.Com.

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