Cold weather crops. Photo: Tyrant Farms
When an email from Grow Journey's founder Aaron von Frank appeared in my inbox, with the subject line 'Opportunity to Work with You,' I may have felt an eyeroll coming on. Many companies contact me about advertising or sponsorship. Few do their homework, and fewer have products I would endorse with either enthusiasm or a clear conscience.
But the Grow Journey email was a little different. "We love your blog and what you stand for—from marriage equality to intelligently and thoughtfully using whatever piece of dirt you find yourself living on, on earth...we're trying to impact the world in the same way you are. As such, is there a possibility of working together? We'd love to be your seed provider, or sponsor, or advertiser, or whatever you're comfortable with that is true to who you are."
Pest control ducks. Photo: Tyrant Farms
And so the correspondence began. I read Tyrant Farms, the personal blog written by Aaron and his Grow Journey co-founder and wife, Susan: edible organic gardening, a great post about no-till healthy soil, mushroom hunting, ducks (for pest control and eggs), kitchen stuff. All good.
Healthy soil. Photo: Tyrant Farms
On the phone from South Carolina, Aaron told me that he and Susan have a modest goal: to transform the American landscape.
I like people who make grand statements. It takes guts, nerve, and confidence. And to be appealing and effective, it needs a very good idea and a way to disseminate that idea. Grow Journey's method of delivery is to shower the gardens of the United States with organic crops via a Seeds of the Month Club, and then to teach the gardeners how to grow sustainably.
My surprise seed package for December
Subscribers receive a surprise collection of seed packets for three to five crops (depending on the size of their garden) per month, plus some smaller bonus or buddy packets. The crops are tuned to the month and growing season. They could be herbs, vegetables, fruit or flowers.
Every seed has its own Quick Guide (at a glance) and Grow Guide (detailed)
But it is Grow Journey's support system that makes things interesting: Subscribers have access to a personalized online (and downloadable) resource that provides them with detailed information about their seeds, from cultivation requirements, to botanical back story, to potential pests for that crop and how to deal with them, to companion planting and sustainable horticultural methods.
Potential pests are listed for each crop, with control methods
On pests, they write:
"A healthy garden needs pests. Pest species provide food for beneficial species. A garden ecosystem that’s teeming with life will tend to hold the population of any one species in check. We’ve found that by focusing on improving our soil fertility and using polyculture plant systems that attract and support a wide variety of insects, we’ve virtually eliminated all pest and disease problems from our garden."
Guild plants for your crops - I had never seen the term before
All this easy-to-access information is detailed, good and interesting, whether you are a new or established gardener. It encompasses far, far more than could ever be squeezed onto the back of a seed packet. Imagine each packet attached to a small novel.
For new gardeners, belonging to this Seeds of the Month Club provides an enormous safety net and support system. For more experienced gardeners - like me - it helps kick you out of your gardening rut. While I like to plan what is coming next, not knowing holds more appeal than I would have imagined. Now I can't wait to plant my Golden Mustard and Painted Pony Beans. Plus I received the Thai basil that is a kitchen staple, and small buddy packets to give away to friends.
And you're not stuck with this, either. You can Pause your subscription at any time, say, over winter (or just collect oodles of seeds to be ready for spring).
Red mizuna mustard. Photo: Tyrant Farms
What does this mean for me? I am receiving complimentary seeds every month, and I will be posting once a month about Grow Journey, for a fee. It might be about a crop I like, a new growing method I have learned about, or just what happens to those duck eggs.
'Painted Pony' beans
So, nicely in time for That Time of the Year, Grow Journey has offered a three-month Small or Large Garden Subscription (so, either three or five seed varieties, plus bonus seeds) to one lucky gardener. You may use this subscription for yourself or gift it to a friend.
The Grow Journey Giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada.
To enter, leave a comment on this post containing:
1. Your name (you can make one up but if you win you're gonna have to come clean!)
2. Your state or province (for Canadians)
3. Your favorite cold weather crop
The winner will be announced by Wednesday, 12pm EST. Be sure to check back. I will ask the winner what size garden subscription they'd like, and to email me with their email address so that we can sign him or her (or a friend) up for the three-month Seeds of the Month Club subscription.
Best of gardening luck!
22 December Update
Randomly chosen from all eligible entries, Denise from California, whose blog is A Growing Obsession, has won the giveaway. Please get in touch via the Find/Follow tab so that we can sort out the details!
For all sad non-winners, Grow Journey is offering a 30 day free trial - it's a nice way to see how their support system works.