How to Grow a Green Business

By ALISON ROWE | Special to the Palisadian-Post

With spring around the corner (or already here, according to some frisky wildlife) there is a new startup in Rustic Canyon—but this one has no apps or algorithms.

Revival Roots builds and maintains raised garden beds, stocked with organic vegetables and herbs—and is, for many homeowners, a welcome extension of their “indoor-outdoor” Palisadian lifestyle.

Man with growing ambition: Reed Newman Photos courtesy of Revival Roots
Man with growing ambition: Reed Newman
Photos courtesy of Revival Roots

Reed Newman, the founder and chief executive officer, is a Los Angeles native who got his start at the family’s Santa Inez vineyards.

“We would go up there on the weekend. I would always procrastinate finishing my homework,” he said with a laugh. “I’d be out working with the vines.”

After earning his degree in environmental and life sciences at Cornell University, Newman is home again and enthusiastic about bringing the benefits of organic, environmentally sound horticulture right into family back yards.

He has a system: Start by selecting the best new-growth California redwood lumber to construct raised beds 77 inches long, 44 inches wide and 15 inches tall.

Each bed is filled with specially sourced, nutrient-rich soil and a drip irrigation feed. Clients can start with one bed or plan on more as part of a garden redesign.

Planting in raised beds gives the gardener control over the inputs to the vegetables, lifting the tender plants above any contaminated soil, controlling the watering and drainage, and ensuring the proper balance of nutrients.

Each bed can accommodate approximately six varieties, and the collections of plants are curated to ensure clients never have too many—or too few—of their favorite healthy treats.

Newman said that he finds that the reasons clients order the beds are varied, including those who have children and want to introduce them to nature and the value of growing produce.

The delight in harvesting may just be what is needed to encourage junior to eat his greens.

For others the sustainability is a draw, as they replace their lawns with geometric lines of fancy lettuces, parsley and fern-topped baby carrots. The company has worked with architects and landscape designers to incorporate the raised beds into homes and gardens. It found that they fit equally well into contemporary, mid-century and Spanish home designs.

Gourmet cooks stock their beds with heritage tomatoes and rare herbs that may play a big part in their chosen cuisines, such as lemongrass for the client who loves Thai food.

Newman explained he loves the process of consulting with clients about what they like to eat and sourcing the best-tasting plants. He chooses varieties to give a succession of produce throughout the year to delight the eye as well as the palate. In this, he is helped by Los Angeles itself, since the weather allows for growing vegetables all year round

For many, concerns about chemical treatments and lack of freshness motivate the desire to grow their own food. However, building and maintaining a vegetable garden is often a challenge for busy homeowners.

“It’s hard to do it on your own—you have to build the structure, source the soil and find the plants,” Newman said.

The beds must look neat with perfect rows of plants, no weeds and no pests. So Revival Roots makes weekly visits to keep the slugs and aphids at bay using environmentally friendly methods to ensure picture-prefect produce.

Newman said he has no doubts about why he’s offering his service.

“My mission,” he said with satisfaction, “is to make home gardening simple.”