For L.Be Sholar, the experience of watching her own seeds grow into something she could eat changed her life.
Sholar lived among the hustle and bustle of New York City for more than a decade, working steps away from Fifth Avenue in Manhattan as a sought-after make-up artist and hair stylist. But as someone who grew up in Kentucky visiting her family’s farm, she eventually started to crave a connection to something beyond her concrete surroundings.
“People in the city were very, very disconnected, especially where I was working; they were quite neurotic because they weren’t grounded,” she says.
In 2015, Sholar decided to move back to Kentucky to work for her family’s soil technology company, OrganiLock. At first, she split her time between Kentucky and the tri-state area so that she could continue to meet with cosmetology clients, but she has since moved to New Jersey full time.
While she worked at OrganiLock, she helped to develop reusable organic soil, and she started to experiment with how to grow her own food in it. Once Sholar started growing plants, she couldn’t stop. She found the experience completely engaging, and she grew around 300 different plant varieties in her first year alone. “I knew if this could make me feel how I was feeling, it could help other people,“ she says.
Feeling inspired, Sholar launched a business called Farm-Based Foodie in 2018, to help others grow their own food. The company carries a line of mobile, compact “pop-up” gardens. She sells these little patches of dirt online, starting at $99, complete with seeds, instructions for plant care and cards with farm-to-table recipes. Extension gardens are also available, along with trellises for tomato growing.
The Farm-Based Foodie Pop-Up Garden is one type of mobile garden in L.Be’s line of products. Photo courtesy of Farm-Based Foodie.
Sholar says her mobile gardens make gardening accessible and are environmentally friendly, as they are free of single-use plastics. Each kit is equipped with reusable carbon-negative soil (from her family’s soil business), which lasts five to 10 years. She claims this soil sequesters carbon more than traditional potting mixes or compost.
For those who might need some additional guidance to get started, Sholar offers gardening lessons and a four-week course about incorporating plants into your life. Her business even got the attention of actress Whoopi Goldberg, who employs Sholar as a gardener at her New Jersey home. The two are neighbours.
While Sholar’s mobile gardens give urban greenthumbs the chance to grow their own food, she says those living in more rural settings will also likely find uses for them. She hopes those who use the mobile gardens will become independent through the act of growing their own food.