Growing up, Ken Lyon didn’t always know where his food came from, but he knows that health concerns weren’t always a major factor in its production.
“I grew up in a time when boxed cereals were full of the worst stuff in the world,” recalled Lyon, now the Yard Guru at Miami’s Wynwood Yard, “and that was normal.”
In the past year, the Wynwood Yard has begun combating that. After the yard opened as an outdoor space with various on-site restaurants, an urban garden was built for those restaurants to cook with organic ingredients. In a clear manifestation of the farm-to-table movement, cooks and diners alike can see their food go from a plot of soil to a porcelain plate. Julie Frans, a chef at Della Test Kitchen, thinks that the Wynwood Yard’s garden could serve as an example for organic urban gardening.
“In Miami, there are a few urban gardens scattered around,” Frans said, “but this particular garden is special because not only is it in a very urban space but it’s accessible to everybody and it’s free. You can come here, you can enjoy some food, you can learn a lot about what can grow in an urban environment here.”
In the heart of Wynwood, an up-and-coming urban center, the Wynwood Yard’s urban garden draws locals in. According to Muriel Olivares, the co-owner of the Little River Cooperative who helped build the garden, one of her main goals was to make the health benefits of eating and growing organic more widespread.
“If you’re not organic, you’re using chemical fertilizers and chemical pesticides,” Olivares said. “Those things damage our own bodies and they damage the environment.”
According to Lyon, more people are beginning to consider those consequences. “Slowly but surely we’ve grown away from processed foods,” he said, “and people are more interested in quality from a health point of view and a lifestyle point of view.”
With that interest growing, chefs like Frans are hopeful for the future of the movement.
“We took bathtubs, basically, and made a garden out of it. You can see how much food you can grow in that space. If you have sun and you have water, you can grow some food for yourself.”
Contributions by: Chris Vazquez, Brian Houtenbrink-Hoyo, and Sebastian Valdes-Dennis