Roger Doiron

Jun 12


Jun 05

Yesterday I wrote about how kitchen gardens can help rehabilitate those whose lives have derailed. Gardens also have the power to heal as is the case with US Marine Corps Sgt. Michael Rice featured in this photo with his wife Brittany. 

Michael served two combat tours in Al Anbar Province (Iraq) and in Marjeh (Afghanistan) and has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He sees gardening as therapy. Always willing to assist in anyway, Michael is seen regularly at the Federal City Community Garden ( see more about this KGI-sponsored project here: ) helping the other gardeners design, plant and maintain their beds while still managing our three compost bins. 

Since the garden’s conception, Sgt. Rice has played a leadership role in the garden’s operation. He has helped organize and has participated in three volunteer builds, which constructed a total of 41 cinder-block raised beds for active duty military, Reservists, Department of Defense workers, in addition to New Orleans Westbank residents, a population that has been traditionally underserved.

As Michael says “there is just something about putting your hands in the dirt, digging and actually watching something grow from seed to harvest. You are creating and nurturing something absolutely beautiful. Gardening eases my stress and improves my mood while providing my family with fresh healthy food." 

"The sense of community that has developed from the Federal City Community Garden is phenomenal. Our gardeners have become like family,” says Michael. And that family is about to grow: Michael and Brittany are expecting a new baby in July.

Sgt. Michael Rice: we salute you!

Jun 04


May 29

This year’s Sow It Forward grantees are starting to report back to us about their gardens and the people they’re reaching, teaching and feeding. Here’s an uplifting story from Hope Community (, our grant partner in Minneapolis, MN. I love Ray’s last quote!

Ray was born in the deep country in Alabama in the 1950’s. His family grew all their own food and raised their own meat. One of 10 children, at age 4 Ray began carrying water to the large garden that sustained his family. “It was hard work,” he says. “We ate healthy, but we didn’t realize that at the time.”

When he was 10, Ray’s family moved to northern Illinois where his father and older brothers found work in the town factory. Removed from the land and the practice of growing their own food, the family’s eating lifestyle changed radically. Looking back, Ray sees this shift as one of the worst things that ever happened to him and his family. “We all got sick. All kinds of things: high blood pressure; high cholesterol; cancer; diabetes.”

Three years ago, Ray got involved in the healthy food work at Hope Community, located in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis. It was his first return to the garden in more than 40 years. Last year, he began growing tomatoes and peppers in a 5-gallon pail on his apartment balcony; this year he shares a plot in a community garden at Hope.

At a community meeting, Ray spoke about his experience with people new to Hope’s work with food, health, and community: “When I started caring about myself, I started caring about other things, too – I started caring about other people, about my community.”

Photo credit: Bruce Silcox


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May 20

(via art-of-joy)

May 06

Here’s a picture from German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent trip to the White House. I realize I’m kicking a hornets’ nest by posting this given how politically polarized a country we’ve become. Still, I think there’s something encouraging about two of the world’s most powerful leaders meeting in a kitchen garden under a sunny sky. One possible take-away is that we – Germans and Americans, Conservatives and Liberals, etc – have more things linking us than we have separating us. We can choose to focus on the former or the latter with two very different outcomes. I know which one I choose!

May 01

Congrats to Alice Waters for being selected as one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, the only food-related person to make the list.

Ruth Reichl puts it best: “Alice Waters is generally described as a chef. This is wrong. Alice Waters is a revolutionary who wants to change the world through food." 

You can see the whole list here:

Apr 04

These are fun days for garden planning and for many of us planting. If you’ve never experimented with companion planting before, a great way to tiptoe in is with a Three Sisters Garden where the sisters refer to the three main agricultural crops of various Native American groups in North America: squash, corn, and climbing beans (usually tepary beans). The square foot method diagram for a 4 foot x 4 foot plot above shows you one way to lay out your crops. It shows 4 squash plants but you may want to cut the number back to 2 or even 1 depending on the size and type of squash you’re growing. 

The idea behind this plan and all plans involving companion planting is that the crops benefit from each other. The pole beans don’t need poles because they can climb up the corn stalks. The beans return the favor by adding nitrogen to the soil for the corn which is a heavy feeder. The squash and its prickly leaves deter pests and prevent weeds from growing. Basically, it’s a real world horticultural example of how the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. If you give it a try this growing season, let us know how it turns out for you.

Mar 04

This month, 6 gardeners from 6 countries take you on a vicarious tour of their gardens via KGI’s Garden Planner. Check out the gardens here:

Feb 24

Here’s a visual take on the possible impacts of California’s drought care of Mother Jones. I knew that California grows roughly 33% of the nation’s produce but I was surprised to read just how much of certain crops it produces: broccoli (95%), tomatoes (90%) and lettuce (74%). You might want to grow some extra of those in your garden this year. You can read the accompanying article here.