Nathan Heath, co-founder of a new garden company called Cultivate, compares growing food to driving a car.
First, it doesn’t come naturally, and it’s best if someone teaches you how to do it. Second, the tires are the soil, the foundation that, if neglected over time, will lose its integrity. The doors, windows, seats and roof are the vegetables themselves, the part of the vehicle you want to be spending the most time with.
Lastly, the car won’t operate without the motor and the transmission, which Health compares to knowing the right timing for when to plant what varieties, depending on where you live, and the mechanic is the farmer, whose specialty helps keeps the whole operation running smoothly.
Using this metaphor, Heath is an agricultural mechanic, a farmer who spent more than a decade running Phoenix Farm in Bastrop, selling produce at local farmers markets and to top chefs in Central Texas.
A few years ago, he sold the farm, and over the past few years, he’s used his farming expertise to help his brother, Luke, grow his own backyard garden. Luke Heath worked for 20 years in technology, building software for startups and Fortune 500 companies, and he saw how much Health’s knowledge of soil, watering and general plant know-how helped in his own efforts to grow vegetables.
The brothers have now partnered up to start Cultivate to combine their passions and help other people grow their own food. The company launched in April, just a month after the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, which cause a spike of interest in backyard gardening.
Cultivate installs raised beds that include a drip watering system, a dashboard to help you manage what you’re growing and the help of a farming partner to make sure everything runs as smoothly as it should.
Each 4-foot-by-8-foot FarmBox is made with either a pine or cedar frame and is filled with Cultivate’s proprietary soil mix and a watering system. Nathan Health says that customers can participate in the gardening process as much or as little as they want. In coming months, the brothers say they hope to add soil moisture sensors and automated watering to make the boxes even more efficient.
The basic box and maintenance program starts at $595, and you can find out more or schedule a consultation at cultivatetex.com.