Garden Start pursues non-profit status to expand green outreach

Greg Harman

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Matt Ahern has been installing gardens around San Antonio on a pay-per-lot basis for years as the founder of Garden Start. He's also roped dozens of businesses into his “green” company directory with EchoTown a for-profit effort intended to make smart ecological decisions pay off for local companies and himself.

Now, in what he hopes will be his first non-profit venture, he's hoping to put A Garden in Every Home. Through gardening workshops, homeowner consulting, and an easy replicable program, Ahern hopes to give home gardening a kick in the overalls in San Antonio.

“To teach a man to garden would be to give them the ability to have the most economical and healthy food at the same time without assistance from the outside other than to get seeds,” he said shortly before hosting his first training workshop last Sunday.

It's a good time to push home gardens. A report by the National Gardening Association last year found home gardens were expected to grow by 20 percent nationally that year. Better taste, lower cost, and health benefits were the most-cited reasons given by homeowners breaking ground for the first time.

While only a a handful of interested residents showed up to hoe a row at Ahern's urban plot as Fiesta burned to a close, at least one of those was anxious to get her skills up.

“With this knowledge I plan to actually grow my own garden at home and start producing the fruit at home,” said Elizabeth Rodriguez, a student at Our Lady of the Lake University. “It's all new information.”

Nick Keel, another experienced local gardener, led the workshop.

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