With a career in marketing and consulting, John Carlson, president and founder of Homefront Farmers, decided to switch gears around the time he turned 50—and get into something he’d always hoped to do: farming. “In addition to a growing interest in organic food, I sensed a desire for simpler, more basic pleasures. In a world where we use so many machines that we don’t fully understand, growing food at home satisfies a more primal need,” he says.
But he also discovered that “while many people advocate growing food at home, there weren’t many companies offering to help fill the knowledge gaps that have sprung up in the last few gen- erations since our grandparents moved off of farms. So Homefront Farmers was created to fill those gaps.”
The Redding, CT-based company is doing just that. They offer a variety of services, starting with helping families evaluate their space and set up their gardens—including building raised beds, if needed. They also offer help with growing vegetables, berries and fruit trees, and even activities like bee- keeping and maple sugaring.
“We have a crew of highly trained organic gardeners who make weekly visits to clients’ homes to plant and tend their gardens,” says Carlson, and they can provide either maintenance plans that last for the whole season or “start-up” plans that get the garden essentials in place and then let home- owners take it from there.
“Many clients like to learn how to grow, so we can set up our weekly visits as hands-on lessons. Others may be older or too busy, and for them we can do it all, from seeding to harvesting,” he says.
“My garden may not be the largest, but I love everything I grow, so nothing goes to waste,” says Ponzek, of her home garden, which features super sweet 100 tomatoes, grape tomatoes, jalapeños, red peppers, Japanese eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, strawberries and summer herbs.
A few of her favorite ways to use the fresh veggies? Soups with either tomatoes (for a gazpacho), or zucchini (for zucchini vichyssoise), roasted tomatoes in olive oil (with which she tops her goat cheese croutons), zucchini tapenade, and thyme- roasted tomatoes (used for bruschetta, basil pesto, and chive oil), she says.
And if you don’t have a green thumb she offers this advice: go with something easier, like herbs, tomatoes or string beans. “It’s so fun and rewarding to eat something you have grown yourself,” she says.