Interview by program assistant Kat Lane
Diane Mead is a Master Gardener living on a beautiful five acre piece of land in Arroyo Grande. We wanted to talk to Diane about sustainability, food waste, and the empowerment of growing your own food during uncertain times.
KL: How long have you been growing your own food and at what point did you become a master gardener?
DM: That’s an interesting question. I’ve been in AG since 2015, and I’ve always been interested in the land and in growing food for myself. When I moved up here from LA, I became a master gardener. I took the class because I wanted to be a good steward of the land. I grow everything from seed, and I’m part of the rare fruit growers, I am always trying to educate myself more so I can take care of the earth better.
KL: What are some of the greatest takeaways you’ve gleaned from growing your own food?
DM: I think my greatest takeaways have been feeling connected to the land. Even more than that, I always feel like I have a connection to something no matter what happens. I’ve always liked the outdoors and working with it and producing my own food. I don’t have to rely on grocery stores right now either. I haven’t had to be part of the supermarket frenzy. I eat pretty much what I grow with some supplemental grains and protein. I might be deficient in some areas, but I feel good about being able to sustain myself. I also grow everything from seed, so I have this sense of control. I am in control of the entire process from the beginning and I can tweak as I go. When I do everything myself and I have that control, things tend to go really well and I feel really independent.
KL: How many hours a day do you spend working outside?
5-7, 5 days a week. It definitely is a long process and takes a lot of commitment and work.
KL: What role do you see gardeners playing in the community?
DM: Education I think is the main one. Gardening has taught me to provide for myself and can teach other people to provide for themselves. Too I think it can be really educational and exciting.
^Artichokes grown by Diane on her property in AG!
KL: What is your favorite thing to grow?
I just put in an avocado orchard! I think more than anything I love the challenge of gardening, and avocados are challenging because I haven’t done them before.