Burpee Home Gardens began touring the U.S. this spring on its Grow Anywhere Tour, visiting 23 cities to deliver more than 30,000 pounds of fresh produce, 13,000 vegetable plants and gardening suppport to areas without easy access to fresh, healthy foods, known as food deserts. We asked Burpee’s Product Manager Scott Mozingo about the outcome of the tour, which was completed in mid-May.
GG: Why is the Grow Anywhere Tour something that Burpee Home Gardens wanted to do?
Mozingo: With the Grow Anywhere Tour, Burpee Home Gardens has nourished a new generation of gardeners by sharing food, plants and advice nationwide. By demonstrating simple ways to grow food, Burpee Home Gardens demonstrated how easy it is to grow anywhere.
After years of inspiring and educating the public about the physical and environmental benefits of gardening through our “I Can Grow” school and community garden program, Burpee Home Gardens took its mission on the road to get gardeners growing nationally. Through the “Grow Anywhere Tour,” Burpee Home Gardens brought people together, building communities and improving neighborhoods as they learned, planted and shared the love of gardening.
GG: What kind of community participation did you get at the various stops?
Mozingo: The Burpee truck traveled more than 10,000 miles cross-country. We hit various regions and climates, but at each stop the “Grow Anywhere Tour” was greeted by enthusiastic volunteers and excited school representatives. We received warm welcomes from the community, the students and their families and, in many cases, local media. Volunteers were eager to help the Burpee team bag the fresh vegetables and hand out plants.
A secondary part of the “Grow Anywhere Tour” included retail destinations in our winning cities. Dozens of local garden centers also received a visit from the Burpee truck, and the Burpee Home Gardens team had a chance to visit with springtime shoppers to offer gardening advice and recommendations.
GG: What lessons can growers and retailers learn from your experience?
Mozingo: We’ve been extremely encouraged by the level of enthusiasm within urban areas for growing their own food, and we have a better understanding of these gardeners’ motivations and expectations for their plants. It will help us moving forward on how to position vegetables with our retail partners, and offer insight to their customers. Urban gardening shares many attributes with small-space gardening, such as the use of patio containers. Seeing what places people have to grow will help us find varieties to suit those conditions.
Helping schools start garden spaces and outdoor classrooms is a great way to ensure the next generation knows where food comes from. Studies show that children who grow their own food make healthier food choices. The children we helped will have an opportunity to learn how to grow plants in their school or community garden and take that knowledge home to share with their parents.