I’ve always had a garden going year-round at my Encinitas home, yet with watering restrictions I have scaled way back and did not even plant a winter garden this year.
That’s why I was so excited to meet Mark DeMitchell and Michael Tarzian the co-founders of VEG.
They recently delivered a self-contained, self-watering vertical garden called the VEG Hub that uses a fraction of the water I would use watering my traditional garden. I had a conversation with Mark recently at Coffee Coffee and he filled me in on these revolutionary new products.
You are a true local’s local, having grown up in Carlsbad with parents who were educators in Encinitas, was gardening part of your life early on?
This is true. I’m from Carlsbad, and grew up in a house where my mom and dad were always growing plants outside of the boring track home manicured landscape. My dad was always growing different varieties of tomatoes and my mom was turning fun and funky containers into gardens.
Tell me a bit about the road to making VEG happen, how did it come about?
The original idea came about when my partner and I realized that not a lot of young adults actually know how to grow veggies. Being the green thumbs in our circle of friends, we got a lot of texts and calls in the past few years to help them get started and explain the basics to them. It was fun for us, but we also realized there was a bigger opportunity and a ground swell of younger people wanting to learn how to grow.
At that point we joined a startup accelerator based in Silicon Valley, The Cleantech Open, last year, to get a grow our initial concept into a startup business ready for launch. We ended up winning the Western region pitch competition, and got some funding and support through the program to launch this spring.
You have two products, The Veg Hub and the Veg Buddy, let’s start with the Veg Hub, how does it work and what are the benefits?
The VEG Hub is a vertical veggie garden. It holds 20 plants and is incredibly low maintenance. It is also so easy to use, that someone with no experience can plant and grow their first time using it. It uses a simple self-watering design that means you never have to worry about under or over watering. It also saves 80 percent of the water compared to a traditional soil garden.
And the VEG Buddy?
The VEG Buddy is a simply smart pot. We designed it for people with even smaller spaces, or for people who don’t want to grow as much as our VEG Hub. Again, it is designed for simplicity and is super easy to plant and take care of.
You have the Veg Hub in several restaurant locations in Coastal North County, where can people check them out?
People can check them out at Le Papagayo, Solace, The French Corner, Kitchen 1540, Legoland, and very soon Union. We are creating a VEG patio on Union’s outdoor area for the spring that will be a functioning VEG demo.
You also have a limited release of 100 spaces for San Diego residents happening currently, how do folks get involved in that?
We currently have 100 spaces open for our limited release. Gardens and plants arrive at people’s homes the first week in June. It is important to note, people not only get a garden, they also get a seasonal subscription to VEG which includes living plants, grow supplies and weekly notifications and tips to ensure their gardens are blooming. Being a part of VEG, means you really get a full service garden and support. San Diego residents interested in being one of the first 100 can visit our website and get an invitation at growveggiestoday.com. We intend to open up more spaces for our service this summer for the fall growing season, but this first 100 is going to get a real hands on experience.
David Boylan is the founder of Artichoke Creative an Encinitas based integrated marketing firm. He also hosts Lick the Plate Radio that airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. on FM94/9, Easy 98.1, and KSON. Reach him at email@example.com or (858) 395-6905.