Friends, I am so excited to introduce you to this week's guest blogger for Wellness Wednesday.... Nina Shirley has more passion than almost everyone I know for creating and growing incredible organic gardens AND teaching others how to do it!
Guest Blogger, Nina Shirley-
Lead Grower, The Dirt Academy
Hello!! I'm Nina Shirley and I live in East Nashville with my husband, Brendon, on our little homestead. We have a big ole' garden that produces most of our veggie supply for a majority of the year and four chickens that pump out the best eggs we've ever had.
I grew up in South Florida, but moved to Nashville when I was 18 to study Sustainable Ecology- and along the way I fell in LOVE with organic farming. I never really saw backyard gardens or small-scale family farms growing up, but Farmer's Markets are in every pocket of town throughout the week here in TN and I started noticing the vast difference between seasonal, local, fresh-picked produce and conventional food grown on the other side of the globe picked by machines.
You know how juicy and sweet a local, ripe strawberry is in May compared to one you get at the grocery store? Yeah, there's that much of a difference between most other fruits and veggies, too.
So when I graduated, I started calling local farms asking if I could join their crew. After a few years of harvesting the best food I'd ever had and working my way up, I became Operations Manager at an organic farm outside of town.
It's rewarding. It's hard work. It's mysterious. It's a gift. It's wonderful to bury a seed in the dirt and have it be providing food for your family a few weeks later.
Having a garden behind my house is fun for neighbors and visitors to walk through and enjoy. It's a place where I can both sweat to get stronger physically and rest to find peace at the end of every day. My garden produces fresh kale, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, zucchini, beans, radishes, carrots, lettuce, okra, flowers, etc. for any given day, but I've also learned to make pickles and salsa to last the whole year!
I loved growing produce and selling it to amazing people all over town when I worked on farms, but I knew I had to figure out a way to make it more real for the consumer- to help them also become familiar and confident with growing their OWN food...
So for several years, I started helping friends build raised bed boxes on the weekends. That turned into having new clients contact me asking for garden installations. And that part of my work life gave me even MORE joy. To see a family come together to build their dream garden that I helped bring to life, ask me questions, become familiar with thinning beets and harvesting peppers and pruning tomatoes and trellising cucumbers... Their diets have changed for the better and there's a constant flow of fresh veggies into their kitchen (sometimes more than they can seem to handle in the best way!).
Meanwhile, I began crafting all of the information, technique, and heart that I used to teach friends and clients how to grow their own food to write an online course. The Dirt Academy is a place for people who feel excited, but unsure how to start or improve their dream garden. I recorded videos on each step of the garden building and maintaining process- from ordering seeds to harvesting the goods! It's also a private online community where all the students have access to me PERSONALLY.
All we're trying to do is live a more whole and healthy life. Growing food is such a massive step in the right direction, and I created The Dirt Academy to walk through every step with anyone who wants to start learning the joy and grit of gardening. To date, we have new gardeners learning and growing in 15 US States and Australia.
If you have any questions about where to get started for your particular backyard or just want to chat, send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org!
And feel free to use the Promo Code "AUGUST" for 15% off lifetime access to The Dirt Academy online course content, online community, and me!
Online Course: garden.thedirtacademy.com
Dirt Academy Lead Grower