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Interview with Geri Miller from HGEL

November 23, 2015

515Yui60KtL._SX415_BO1,204,203,200_We’re very excited about our new partnership with Home Grown Edible Landscapes. They have planted a few garden boxes for us, the bounty of which we will be using for our menu. We spoke with Geri Miller, the owner of HGEL, to learn more about how the partnership formed, HGEL’s philosophy and exactly what they’re growing for Union.

You can preorder a copy of Geri’s upcoming book, “Vegetable Gardening in Southern California” at this link.

 

 

How did Union and Home Grown Edible Landscapes find each other?

Geri – Social media tends to bring people together in unlikely ways. Michael Fiorelli, of Love and Salt, is a friend Chef Kalman and I have in common on social media. Michael was posting about Dan Barber’s restaurant and WASTED, a group that brings together artisans to put together dinners of food that would otherwise be discarded. Michael was posting about how cool that issue was.

From www.WastedNY.com

“wastED is a community of chefs, farmers, fishermen, distributors, processors, producers, designers and retailers, working together to reconceive “waste” that occurs at every link in the food chain.” 

Geri – Bruce posted in the comments of Michael’s post and it really called out to me. Our company has a small urban farm on Abbot Kinney that serves restaurants near by. I mention that, a conversation sparked and everything came from there.

Home Grown Edible Landscapes does both private and culinary production gardens, both onsite at restaurants and at our prototype in Abbot Kinney which we hope spreads to all centers of high minded chefs in the area. We’re very excited to partner with chefs.

The center of what we do is the relationship between the chef and myself, the horticulturist. What I grow is exclusively driven by chefs. We use an artisanal approach. Bruce has been very communicative which makes my job easier and more satisfying. I was drawn to Bruce by his philosophies and the things I was reading on his social media. He’s got a social activist side that I love to see. He’s not all about running a business.

How many boxes have you planted for Union?

Geri – I would love to have more space, but we’ve planted three, 4′ x 10′ beds.

What’s the decision process like for what to plant?

Geri – I sat down with Chef Kalman and we chatted back and forth about his philosophy and what he wants to see over the next six months to a year. Then I gave him a reality check. From a lengthy list we paired down to fit our small gardening space. Then we whittled the wish list down to three main crops: broccoli, cauliflower and fava beans. But there’s a few different varieties of each plant. They grow differently and have different flavor profiles.

We’ve included white, yellow, purple, and green Romanesco cauliflower. The leaves are totally edible. Because of what I knew about Bruce’s thoughts on waste, I picked varieties that are all edible.

For the fava beans, while we’re waiting for them to develop, we can use the tender tips which have a beautiful earthy taste.  We can nourish ourselves with the same plant in different ways using different parts of the plant.

It’s important to me that when I bring in a product that I have to propagate from seed that there’s a cultural connection. It’s not just broccoli, it’s an heirloom variety that’s been around for a hundred years. So the chefs can have a connection to the plants.

Union staff will be trained on harvesting herbs so they can stop by and pick a few things when they need anything.

 

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