Sharon Piper-Martin not only loves the taste and nutrients provided by organic food but has decided to create a job born of her passion and knowledge.
The Danville resident first learned about organic gardening about 30 years ago, when her first child was born.
“I was listening to the news, and they were talking about DDT and how they discovered it was actually dangerous for people to ingest,” she said. “I was looking at that little baby and I was saying, ‘I can't feed him this stuff. I just don't ... really trust our food system, so I’m going to have to do something about that.’”
To begin her first organic garden, Piper-Martin purchased her first organic gardening magazine, aptly named Organic Gardening, which is currently under the Rodale Institute.
“I read the first issue cover to cover,” she said. “I just couldn’t put it down. I dreamed of the day that I had soil.”
Soon after, Piper-Martin began growing her first garden, which included tomatoes, pumpkins, radishes and carrots. She had a small amount of peas as well, but there were enough to last her all winter.
“If I could make it grow knowing absolutely nothing then I think anybody can,” she said.
According to Piper-Martin, one of the main reasons organic food is better for consumption is that it is more flavorful and contains more vitamins and minerals, since the nutrients aren’t lost in packaging, as most organic fruits and vegetables are eaten soon after being picked.
“Buying the cheapest can of green beans at the store is pointless; there’s no real nutrition,” she said as an example. “If that food's not really providing your body with what it needs, it’s just making you hungrier.”
Today, Piper-Martin has decided to become an organic gardening coach who helps a client design a garden and gives advice on irrigation and what to plant, etc.
She does not provide the physical labor. She currently is working with three different gardens, including one next to a house near Danville Country Club; a community garden near Constitution Square Park and run by James Ross, who visits daily; and a plantation garden off of U.S. 127.
The community garden is open to the public, and any food not taken by local residents is taken to Harvesting Hope, or anywhere food is needed.
According to Piper-Martin, not only would planting more community gardens help the community as a whole, but it would help the entire world as well.
“It’s my hope that people will begin to understand the necessity for agriculture, and the need for doing things organically, because ... in Maria Rodale’s book Organic Manifesto, she makes the case that if all agriculture were done organically in the world, our soil would sequester all the excess carbon that we are emitting into the atmosphere.”
Piper-Martin said that definitely needs to happen.
“This planet is definitely off balance, and it's spinning off balance at a faster rate every year,” she said.
Her love for the garden is still a personal love, too, and she hopes her planting and eating of organic fruits and vegetables will carry into the future.
“We're all gonna die when it's our time, but if I can do something to help myself live my days as well as I possibly can, and not die some awful, horrible, expensive death that my family has to endure with me, wouldn't it be better?” she said. “Plus, I would like there to be something left for my grandchildren.
“I don’t want them to live in an isolated bubble where there's no air to breathe and water to drink. I think it (organic gardening) is common sense.”
Currently, Piper-Martin is looking for more customers, either to begin planning a garden that can endure through the winter, or, particularly, to begin planning for spring gardens. Reach her at (859) 583-4688 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her website is www.organicgardencoach.com.