The Back Story

CEO, Christy Ross

What got you interested in gardening?

I’ve always loved to be outdoors in nature—whether running, hiking or just enjoying time with friends and family. Gardening was often my go-to pastime, and my garden has always been my happy place. Bringing a garden to life is really fulfilling, and gives me the energy I need to manage the stressors and non-stop motion of working and parenting my 3 boys. 

Why did you start Planted Places?

I’ve started businesses before and knew that there is nothing more satisfying than creating something from nothing and seeing it grow and thrive— just like a garden! When I realized that I could combine this passion with my increasing passion for gardening I decided to take the leap.

I really wanted to Planted Places to have positive impact on people’s lives. So first I focused on building ornamental walls that could transform often sterile environments by bringing nature closer to people. I wanted people to feel refreshed and renewed, and healthier, just like my garden makes me feel.

But that got me thinking… what is the epitome of a healthy lifestyle? It’s growing the healthiest food possible, and eating it at the peak of freshness.  So why not combine vertical gardens with the pinnacle of healthy living?

What really struck a chord in me, was a stat from the National Gardening Association, that 35% of American households grow food at home so that they can eat healthier and tastier meals. I thought if 1 in 3 people are doing this, then why not more? 

But here’s the clincher…I knew how to garden, but I didn’t know how to grow food. Embarrassing but true.  So I got to work to figure this out for myself. For me, growing food at home used to consist of lots of herbs; I’m guilty of going to the nursery, buying a basil seedling, potting it, and watching it do great for two weeks. I lacked the knowledge and guidance to accomplish a successful harvest, but I now was determined to learn! I went straight to experts Steve Masley & Pat Browne of Grow it Organically.

It was a year and a half ago that we went straight into test mode, testing over 250 seedling varieties in the wall while we looked for taste, color, texture, and variety! The key is organic: Our mission is to make organic gardening flavorful, easy, and accessible And have our customers succeed!

Now nothing makes me prouder than seeing the photos our customers send us, of themselves next to their Farm Walls, with big grins on their faces because of how proud they feel that they are growing successfully and producing healthy food for their families.

How is your Farm Wall unique to someone who has no idea what it is?

Our Farm Wall is a vertical gardening ecosystem that makes it super easy to successfully grow the healthiest and best tasting organic produce in living soil. Yes: living soil. A lot of people see the wall and think it’s a hydroponic system because of the water tank and water movement. But no, we want the rich, microbial activity, the nematodes, the soil bacteria, all working together in a soil food web. The roots bring all those rich vitamins and minerals from this soil food web straight into the leaves that you get to eat! Healthy soil also helps fight off disease and pests that many gardeners struggle with. It results in highly nutrient dense plants that shine with bright color and radiance.  People will ask me ‘Are those real?’ That’s how vibrant the color is—people cannot believe their eyes.

Has the Farm Wall System really changed people’s eating habits?

Yes! It really gets you to eat healthier. I’ve got three boys, and now my 16 year-old, every morning, walks out to the yard and scopes the wall for Swiss chard, kale, and some arugula and puts them in his scrambled eggs- it’s totally crazy! My favorite quote from him is… “Mom, once you have a wall salad there is no going back.”  Love that! Creating and sharing this with my family has been huge for me. Learning about our food, where it comes from, knowing it’s healthy, and knowing it’s organic.

I’ve also learned about the longer term benefits of eating this way. For example, eating fresh produce not only improves physical but also mental health. From teen anxiety to depression in adults, everyone can benefit. Our Farm Wall System helps give many more people a way to access healthy eating, and helps them succeed every step of the way.

Any advice for people who feel they don’t have a green thumb?

Many people think this is hard to do, maybe because they weren’t successful in the past and are afraid to try again. Turns out this is often because they were set up to fail- they didn’t have irrigation set-up correctly, chose the wrong location for their raised bed or pots, seedlings were not healthy, soil didn’t have the right nutrients, etc. We help people avoid all that- some of the solutions are built into our Farm Wall unit, and others into the membership plan, which delivers fresh seasonal seedlings of your choice, to your door just as you need to replace your older plants.

What new things can we expect from Planted Places?

We are constantly working in our test gardens, and getting back to you with invaluable custom guidance to ensure your success. 

We are so excited to take and guide you on your organic wall garden journey to harvest the healthiest, tastiest, and most beautiful produce!

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