For those that think gardening in the desert is difficult or near impossible, Marana resident John Keller would beg to differ.
Keller uses, sells and promotes a gardening system called EarthBox. The system stores water in the basin and allows the plants to take as much or as little water as they need. A cover helps lock in moisture and keep weeds out. Keller believes if you plant something in an EarthBox, it will gro=w, and that is good for the message he wants to get out to retired folks.
“We all need to eat more vegetables,” Keller said. “And it is so nice to go out and pick fresh, green vegetables for yourself and visitors. They taste so much better.”
His Marana home is surrounded with numerous EarthBoxes, all of which are being used and have plants growing in them, which range from cabbage and spinach to tomatoes and peppers.
While going out to local farmers markets around town, Keller promotes the healthy lifestyle that gardening can offer someone, and the system he uses and encourages others to use allows him to sit back and watch the plants grow.
“It is great for retired people,” he said. “It is wonderful for children to plant seeds and watch them grow.
“And we all need to eat more vegetables,” he added. “This is a nice way to appreciate vegetables because you grew them.”
Keller rescues plants that would be otherwise thrown away at local nurseries. He then takes the plants and vegetables that he grows that he doesn’t need or eat to the local farmers markets in Marana, Oro Valley and the one in Dove Mountain. All of the proceeds from his plant sales go to Joseph’s Pantry, a local food bank.
For those who are interested in learning to garden, Keller invites them to come to his house and tour his garden, which spans along the side of his house and into his backyard year round.
That way, people are able to see how simple it is to grow fresh food in their own backyard. Keller has taken the ease of gardening one step further and connected his EarthBoxes up to his rainwater harvester, which waters the plants automatically.
Keller also says that gardening gives retired people a purpose, which he feels is important to have later in life.
Along with physical health, Keller helps people with mental health. Once a week, Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist Steve Liu, who is also a certified lifestyle educator, direct people to go and garden with Keller. Together Keller and the patients meet at his house to garden, which helps the patient physically and mentally.
For more information on Keller and his gardening, go to www.academygardens.net, or call him at 906-7372.