Meet the Grower: Chuck O'Herron-Alex
Chuck O'Herron-Alex is in the business of helping others grow their very own food. Whether you have a half acre property or a small balcony off your downtown loft, Veggiegrower Gardens of New Mexico, can get you growing your own fresh foods.
Chuck specializes in selling handmade micro-intensive gardens, as well as vegetable seeds, composts, and other gardening products. I visited his store located at 3211 Silver Ave SE, in Albuquerque's Nob Hill area, to ask some questions and learn more about his business.
What is a “micro-intensive” garden and what are some of the benefits of using them?
A micro intensive garden is a growing system that has built in drainage, protective covers and allows people to grow some of their own food all year long. They take up a small amount of space but still allow someone to grow a substantial amount of vegetables. For basic information about micro intensive gardens, my website is a great place to start: www.veggiegrower.net.
Micro-intensive garden- ready to be filled with soil and seeds.
Can anyone grow food with a micro-intensive garden system?
Micro intensive gardens come in six standard sizes and can be custom-sized for specific locations. Veggiegrower Gardens of NM caters to people at all levels of gardening skill and can help design a growing system for individuals with limited mobility and other physical limitations.
What inspired you to get into the business of designing and selling them, and for how many years have you been in operation?
I originally designed the micro intensive gardens as part of a hunger relief project for folks in Juarez, Mexico. People here in town began hearing about the gardens and wanted them for use in Albuquerque. I have been in my current location for almost two years and was building micro intensive gardens out of my garage for two years prior to that.
Bulk seeds are also for sale.
Besides selling to the backyard gardener, you are also involved with school and community gardening projects. What are some of these projects both here in New Mexico outside of the state?
I have set up micro intensive gardens on some of the Indian reservations, in the East mountains, in Santa Fe, in Espanola, in Socorro, in Page, Arizona, in Athens, Georgia, and on the roof of a charter school in the Bronx, NY. I have set up gardens at quite a few local schools and am currently doing a project for La Montanita Coop at two schools in Gallup, NM.
Have you noticed an increase in people’s interest in growing their own food?
Many people do seem to be more interested in growing food. It's fun and satisfying but also can help to cut food costs, decrease gasoline use, and save time. The time spent tending a garden is often considered much more enjoyable than the time spent driving to the grocery store.