Savoring the Sweet Life 6

An Arcadia Couple Seeks to Teach, Inspire 
and Cultivate a Locally Grown Movement 
with their Urban Farm

About 15 years ago, Jill Green planted a peach tree, completely unaware that the little tree was the start of her own urban farm. As trees do, the peaches came up and suddenly she had more than plenty. Her neighbors bought them and asked if she had more, so she planted more. Now, more than a decade later, her neighbors are still asking. She leaves colorful white, brown, speckled and even blue eggs from her own chickens out for $5 on a table in her yard.

Just driving by the garden on Osborn Road, you probably wouldn’t think twice about it. But venture past the gate, and you’ll find raised plant beds, a chicken coop, herb pots and even goats, right in the heart of Phoenix.

Her carefully landscaped yard—the Sweet Life Garden has been the site of numerous weddings and bridal showers—features 20 to 25 peach, pear and plum trees.

Touring the garden is a true lesson in agricultural. She leads me inside the chicken coop, showing me where the chickens lay eggs, sleep and take dust baths, pointing out which chickens were responsible for laying each color of egg. I even got to hold a baby chick in the palm of my hand—one of many that were huddled together in a cardboard box.

Just walking around, you’d have no idea that four goats also live on property. Walking up to the goats’ pen, we pass by an apple tree growing sideways on the fence surrounding the pool.

“People think they have to have a lot of space for a big tree. It’s all about how low you want to prune it,” says Green.

As soon as we approached the gate, two goats immediately started butting heads. She tells me some of their names: Samba, Luna and Nelly. They’re La Manchas, goats from Spain, which she picked because they’re quiet.

“Every morning I get up on the milk stand so we can have fresh milk and make cheese,” she says pointing to a wooden stand beside the goats’ pen. “We also have fresh eggs. Then we have our vegetables. We want to know where our food is coming from, and we want it to be fresh and organic.”

The Sweet Life Garden represents an important movement in this country: urban gardening. Many Americans are now growing their own food to ensure quality, and although the farm-to-table trend in this country is relatively new, Green’s practices are not.

“Only in the last few generations, people didn’t live like this,” Green says. “I think people are remembering, or needing. Now we know that we don’t want to spray poisons in our food anymore. We don’t want to have genetically modified food. That’s messing with the next generation. We’re learning that to try to return back to that natural way of living.”

Part of her mission is also to educate others on how they can grow their gardens. “People want to know how you do that. How do you sustain yourself and still live in the city and work?” she says.

The answer is that you start small: with an herb pot or two, and keep trying if it doesn’t work out well the first few times.

“It’s worth your patience and time learning.”

Besides the fresh produce and food, Green’s garden has also given her something else: a sense of community. In those pre-Internet days, she would drive around and say hi to anyone she saw with a vegetable garden. She initially shared “custody” of her goats with a neighbor before he gave them to her. And today, she’s part of a thriving community of urban gardeners.

“We’ve met so many people that we didn’t know who lived around here,” she says.

Green also says she loves seeing people’s faces light up when they discover the Sweet Life Garden.

“That’s what makes a difference to us, just inspiring people,” Green says. “Now it’s the time to share what we do.”

To learn more about the Sweet Life Garden or to schedule an appointment, please visit SweetLifeGarden.com.