I think I have gardening in my blood. My Italian grandparents gardened and made wine in the Roman countryside. Summertime memories from my childhood include plates heaped with just-picked figs and peaches so juicy they'd drip all down my arm. My Nonno was so proud of his roses — if we didn't smell them, he said they might as well not exist. My Nonna loved their cherry tree that looked "like a bride" when in full bloom.
Gardening has continued to be a family activity for me. My kids think it's fun to pick spinach leaves right out of the ground for a quick snack — the same spinach they won't eat at the dinner table. Earthworms from the compost pile have been given names.
I've worked in the gardening industry since 1998, and feel lucky to be Product Testing and Coordinator for Gardener's Supply. I test products in our company's beautiful backyard, and truly enjoy working with fellow gardeners around the country, from a rooftop garden in New York City to the desert-like climate in Arizona. I think gardening really brings people together.
Amy Dunfee's children pick the first harvest in her test planters. She gardens with her family in Kalamazoo, MI.
AS Product Testing and Research Coordinator, I test, test, and retest our products in the backyard of our headquarters in Burlington, VT to make sure they work for our customers.
"Thanks for letting me do this. It has been a lot of fun and I have finally grown some potted tomatoes! I have never before had success with tomatoes in pots."
I also coordinate our nationwide program, which gets gardeners from around the country involved in testing. We want to make sure that our products perform well in different hardiness zones, climates, elevations and situations. We also know that it is risky to do all the testing in one place because diseases, such as late blight, could devastate our test crops, leaving us with a summer of no results.
Just like our customers, our testers come from all over the country, and range in ability from novice gardener to professional grower.
The enthusiasm, commitment, and hard work of our testers has been outstanding. Because of their efforts, we can bring better products to all of our customers.
Allegra DeAngelo is part of our network of nationwide testers. She gardens on her balcony in Queens, NY, and helps us understand the joys and challenges of small-space, urban gardening.
She started with a couple of houseplants on a fire escape, and now lives in an apartment with two balconies, where she can grow a variety of plants and flowers.
“I like to grow things I can use in my cooking and have the reward of eating it, like herbs," she says. "My friends love it when I share.”
She has also inspired her roommate to grow her own plants, and noticed that her neighbors seem to be growing more, too. “Having plants is like investing in something you feel connected with, like having a fish, or a cat, but much easier.” Allegra has been known to name her fruit trees, such as Figmund Freud, and Liz Lemon. “I enjoy getting my hands dirty from working the soil — not from the subway!”
Meet a few more of the testers who've worked with us through the years:
Moon of Westchester County, NY, (left) and Sarah Bouscaren of San Diego, CA.
Phil Wood of Gardner, MA, and Lucinda Trombly of Fort Collins, CO.
Jackie Thiebe of Seattle, WA, and Suzanne LaVallee of Hyannis, MA.
Jane Peterson of Scotts, MI; Helga Smith of Milton, DE; and Debbie Winebrenner of Perkins, OK.
Amy Dunfee and family (Kalamazoo, MI); and Jeanne Grist and family (Madison, WI).
Mariana Lamaison of Media, PA; Virginia Adams of Sun City, AZ; and Jerry Parker of Converse, TX.
Rachel Foreman and Robin Taylor of Fountain House, New York, NY.
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