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FOOD + DRINK
Grow Y'own
All-in-one gardening solution simplifies at-home growing
by Josh Rubin
on 11 July 2011
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From luxury chicken coops to high-tech wind turbines, the more accessible tools of today's self-sustainability movement mean you can do things like raise fresh meat and harness affordable energy without going to extremes—providing you have the cash. But gardening at home, like an express lines for farm-to-table eating, tends to pose the greatest challenge for those craving homegrown produce.

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Anyone who has tried to raise tomatoes or put down a bed for basil knows that between the watering, weeding and general maintenance, it takes some serious dedication to get great veggies. Enter Ken Kuhne, a 36-year veteran of customized green-home design and construction. Addressing the common problems faced by home gardeners, he came up with Grow Y'own, a self-contained, secure system for "no-brainer gardening."

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Put simply, the Grow Y'own solution combines a traditional raised bed with a greenhouse. Constructed of renewable cedar planks, the base supports plastic hooping that provides the structure for either a UV-resistant cover for summer or a flexible glass winter shell—allowing for year-round growing anywhere from the hot dry desert to the rainy Pacific Northwest. Because the covers are always on the risk of insects or other pests is nearly eradicated. The beds can also be raised, making gardening for those with mobility issues possible.

Suitable for places ranging from urban rooftops to rural estates, sizes go from 2' x 4' all the way up 4' x 8'. An optional gopher screen keeps critters out and each Grow Y'own unit can easily connect to watering systems.

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The DIY attitude that gave birth to and drives this product forward encourages buyers to customize and innovate with their garden beds. Order a kit from Kuhne and it will arrive with simple instructions to get you started. The kits are flat-packed and very easy to assemble. All it takes is attaching a few brackets and a little time to have your garden up and running. Alternatively, if you are in the Sante Fe area, Grow Y'own staff will install on site, adding any and all features you could desire.

We caught up with Ken Kuhne to learn a little more about the Grow Y'own system:

What's the utility of Grow Y'own?

The Grow Y'own Hooped Raised Beds enable people to grow their own organic food source outside their backdoors, with the secure knowledge of how the plants were watered and handled, picked and brought to the table. They dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of shipping food thousands of miles, and most effectively support the 'green' movement that is so essential to the health of our planet.

How user-friendly is Grow Y'own? Could my grandmother maintain one?

More than anything, it is 'no-brainer gardening.' All that clients then have to do is watch their gardens grow, and go out and pick fresh food. The need to weed or maintain the beds is almost non-existent. I have 90-year-old grandmothers using them, who never thought they would garden again because of all the work involved—prepping the soil, fighting the sun, winds and critters. I've worked with school children in kindergarten who have not only grown successfully, but learned where their foods came from, the meaning of sustainability and how light, temperature and climate affected the plants.

What kind of yield do you get from a well-maintained Grow Y'own?

A 4' x 8' grow bed will feed a family of four continuously and amply. Many people have more than one grow bed, because they want to grow more things. I have single women with as many as seven and they keep wanting to get more!

How do you think this product fits into the bigger movement of locally sourced food and sustainability?

We've shipped to 25 states and everyone is growing successfully, whether it's in extreme cold temps in Montana, in the ultra-heat of Tucson or the continuous rains of Ohio. Everyone across America is getting on the bandwagon of food growing. Grow Y'own is committed to empowering individuals all over the country, helping farmers and growers extend their seasons year round, and teaching people that 'no brainer gardening' is alive and well! One day, someone will give their grow bed to a grandchild and tell them, "This was Grandma's garden, and one day you will continue the chain and pass it on."

You can purchase all Grow Y'own's models from the online store. The kits start at $225 and include hoops and a summer or winter shade.

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