In this month’s grower’s spotlight, we’re highlighting Marie Cosgrove-Davies, a local gardener and former Google product manager. Marie began growing food when she moved to Pittsburgh from San Francisco six years ago. She quit her full time job a few months ago and has spent her time with family and friends, researching and setting up her new beehive, and tending to her Audubon-certified backyard habitat! Hear from Marie about her passion for growing her own food and the impact of gardening in her life.

GP: When did you first begin gardening?
Marie: I started gardening when I moved to Pittsburgh 6 years ago.  My first garden was mostly shaded so it was difficult to grow most things.  When I moved into this house the front yard was a terrible grass yard, so I mulched it to cover the grass and slowly began planting native flowers and fruits. I was new to gardening so I borrowed a lot of books from the library and took a few classes online and at Grow Pittsburgh. My general strategy is to put something in the ground and wait to see if it lives!

GP: Why do you choose to grow your own food or garden?
Marie:  Growing my own food is satisfying and makes me feel more connected to the world around me – I notice things I wouldn’t otherwise see because I’m very invested in my space and plants. I also love growing weird and interesting things like PawPaws and trying new techniques. Last year I took an online course on tree grafting and successfully grafted ⅘ fruit trees. I also took Grow Pittsburgh’s mushroom class and am trying to grow some mushrooms in my backyard. I like the idea of food independence for myself and my neighborhood, but I’m still pretty far from that reality…

GP: What’s your favorite thing to grow? What do you find the most challenging?
Marie: I love big, fluffy, and colorful poppies. I struggle the most with fruit trees, they grow but don’t yield a lot of fruit.

GP: What are some lessons gardening has taught you?
Marie: It sounds cliche but patience.  Once you plant something you have to wait and see if it survives.  Also, there are some weeds that need to be addressed immediately or they will dominate the garden.  But you can’t be too controlling in the garden, there’s only so much you can do.

GP: How do you hope to expand your garden in the future?
Marie: I hope to learn more about perennial vegetables and plant as few annuals as possible.  I’m currently working on growing tree collards. I also would like to learn more about grafting and to split my beehive into two eventually.

GP: Why do you support Grow Pittsburgh?
Marie: Gardening is enjoyable and therapeutic, and I think that Grow Pittsburgh does great work and helps gardening be accessible to all.

GP: Which of Grow Pittsburgh’s core values, found here, do you identify with most?
Marie: “Environmental Responsibility” – I’ve learned about gardening practices like no-till soil building and planting for beneficial insects. These help me collaborate with what’s around me rather than trying to bend it to my will. I feel like I’m contributing to the world around me and helping my garden be more resilient and strong. It’s very satisfying!

GP: Any advice for folks who are getting started with growing their own food?
Marie: See what works, but don’t be too upset if you have to try again!

Do you know another local grower you’d like to see in the Grower’s Spotlight? Maybe it’s you! Drop us a line to be featured in our next newsletter or on our blog.