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Take a Gardening Class with Geri Miller of The Cooks Garden

January 4, 2016

Geri Miller of The Cooks Garden has been tending some beds for us in the Pasadena Community Gardens for a few months now, allowing us to harvest directly from our garden to your plate. And now Geri is offering a class to the public on an intro to organic gardening. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from a local expert!
Click here to sign up!

Intro to Organic Gardening Basics

Join us to celebrate the beginning of the 2016 winter gardening season! We are opening the season with a gardening class on organic gardening basics taught by Master Gardener, Horticulturist and Union restaurant grower, Geri Miller.
This class will include:
~ HGEL Lecture on basic gardening techniques and edibles for the cool season including: Brief overview of soil management, planting strategies, fertilizing, pest/disease control
~ The Right Plant for the Right Place – What to plant in the cool season and where to plant it.
~ Attendees will also receive A FREE fall edible plant to add to your own garden And receive a 20% discount on Geri’s Book, A Guide to Vegetable Gardening in Southern California. A guided tour of the Union Restaurant beds will follow the class.
Saturday January 16, 2016 from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM PST
The Pasadena Community Garden
721 So. Pasadena Ave.
Pasadena, CA 91105
Free street parking is available on So. Pasadena Ave. but get there early for the best spots! Limited parking is also available inside the garden.
FREE for PCG members. Non-PCG members are asked to make a suggested donation of $15 at the door payable to The Pasadena Community Garden. You must be registered to attend as seating is limited. Registration includes a LINK to the handout for attendees to view on IPad or printout & bring to class. The link will be emailed to you a couple of days prior to the class.
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Click here to order Geri’s book on Amazon.

Team Union visits new garden boxes with Geri Miller

November 27, 2015

This week Team Union visited our new garden boxes in Pasadena so that the staff could learn what we have planted there, Geri Miller’s planting process and how to harvest for Union’s menu. Below are a few pictures from our first lesson and some highlights from the garden.


It was a gorgeous day.


Everyone from Team Union showed up. Even the newbies.


The team got up close and personal with the plants.


Geri walked us through everything we have growing including fava beans, several different kinds of cauliflower, broccoli, basil and other herbs.


There are billions of living organisms living just in the top 4 inches of the soil.


Geri says the keep rate on what we’re harvesting from our own boxes is three times as long as food you would buy from the store.


Geri explains that by harvesting at just the right time, we can get the exact flavor profile from anything we pick.


To keep the plant healthy, you should never harvest more than 30% of the plant at one time. Geri says, “The leaves are the solar panel of the plant.”


Some plants are particularly good at transferring the taste of the earth through their leaves. This is called “terroir.”


Geri explains: Nitrogen feeds the leaves. Phosphorous helps a plant’s blossoms, fruits and root system. And potassium helps the plant’s immune system and cold tolerance.


Geri has planted us a bio-diverse box that they will harvest aggressively to keep the plants small and active.



Geri keeps us up to date with weekly emails.


Here’s a recent update from Geri on what’s been going on in the boxes: “Greetings from garden! Things look really good! Basil is not dealing with cold nights but we knew it was a crapshoot. Wind dried out a few seedlings in cauliflower bed but gave them a little misting and they perked up. We lost a couple of favas which we’ll replace. I’m planting Romanesco and black salsify today. ”




Food is already starting to grow!




We’ve got three full boxes planted for us…


And you can tell which one’s are ours because they’re booming!


Chef Kalman and Geri make a great team!

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.