FEATURED ARTIST:Chandra Hartman (Moonlight Micro Farm)

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Name: Chandra Hartman

Location: Panama City Beach, FL

Astrological Sign: Leo

Websites:

www.moonlightmicrofarm.com
www.wildrootatzen.com

How did you get involved with gardening/guerilla gardening/gardening products? What led you to it?

I’ve always loved the outdoors and have been drawn to and inspired by nature. I have fond memories of helping my grandmother in the garden when I was a young girl. She grew flowers and interesting plants. As a young adult, I always had tiny gardens growing herbs or tomatoes, but my passion and drive to grow food really developed when I learned more about industrial agriculture, dwindling resources, and climate change.

I had gone back to school to earn a degree in sustainability and green building and along the way I discovered permaculture and the deep green resistance movement. I was compelled to get involved with food on a deeper level because it’s such a basic need that profoundly shapes the state of the world and it’s a thing that each person in the developed world can attain and assert some measure of control over.

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What do you get out of gardening  or creating gardening products? How has it improved or changed your life or the lives of others? Why do you feel it is vital or important?

I don’t have a beautiful garden like Martha Stewart or grow all my own food, but I grow things. The garden is where I do my best thinking, it’s where I cultivate ideas, and it’s always a place of wonder and inspiration. Each season is an opportunity to try something new or simply try again. My garden gets a lot of tough love, which means it has to survive a lot of neglect. I’m always amazed at the resilience it shows me. I like to believe that I’ve inspired other people to think more deeply about how their choices affect the world we share. When customers excitedly share their photos and stories of growing their own food from seeds they bought from me, I know I’m doing something worthwhile.

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What’s your most favorite feature of your garden or product? What’s the best aspect of your garden or product to you?

The best feature of my seeds is that they are all open pollinated and non-GMO. This year we are also offering all certified organic seeds or seeds from trusted sources that grow organically, but may not be certified.

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What comments, responses or feedback have you received about your garden or gardening products?

I’ve received wonderful feedback from my customers. I’ve had customers come back year after year. That speaks volumes about their experience and is the best compliment I can receive. Many customers tell me they have the best luck with my seeds. They love the varieties I offer, as well as the packaging and basic instructions on the back of each packet.

Do you have any advice for others interested in starting a garden or getting involved with guerilla gardening or gardening product creation?

My advice to anyone is to just do it. Taking action is the most important part of any endeavor. Don’t be afraid to try different things. Over the years I’ve heard a lot of garden advice and I’ve read a lot of gardening books, but nothing beats personal experience and those experiences vary.

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In your opinion, why is gardening an art form?

If you believe that art is the expression of creativity and imagination, then gardening can certainly be an art. Some people garden for purely utilitarian reasons, to feed themselves, but there is beauty in growing plants, building soil and being a collaborator with nature.

What’s your favorite plant and why?

I don’t have one favorite plant. I have many favorites that are constantly changing depending on the season or whatever. One plant that stands out would have to be the sweet potato. It’s a faithful producer in the Southeast, it’s beautiful, has few pests, it’s highly nutritious and both the roots and the leaves can be eaten, and you can save some of the roots to start new plants the next year. If I’m looking at feeding myself well post-apocalypse, I want to have sweet potatoes on hand!

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Why do others need to get involved with gardening aside from replenishing the earth, saving and providing an environment to foster insect and animal life and beautification of the Earth? How has it influenced you on a spiritual or emotional level or evolved you as a person, if it has?

One of the most important reasons to get involved with gardening, either for food production or simply pleasure, is that it is a direct connection to the natural world. We need that connection to cultivate empathy and health.

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