Organic Gardener Spreading the Word About Eating Healthier
Jai Hambly can tell you what you should be eating, but also show you how to grow it.
Organic cafes, markets and stores are all the rage throughout the country, and they have only grown in popularity over the years as people continually strive to eat healthier.
But Jai Hambly, a college-educated landscape architect and master gardener at the newly re-located Organic Living Garden Center on Patricia Avenue, wants people to know that eating organic is not good enough when it comes to getting the most out of our food.
The problem, according to Hambly, is not with the products coming out of the soil, but with the actual soil itself.
“Plants need roughly 90 minerals to be healthy, and we’re feeding them three man-made minerals,” she says, referring to the nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium mixture that makes up the bulk of the country’s fertilizer.
“If we don’t have the proper minerals in our body we can take all the vitamins we want, and all we’ll have is very expensive urine.”
Growing up on a large farm in rural Michigan, Hambly was exposed to the world of agriculture at an early age. Her love of gardening and extensive knowledge of plants and animals made a career in a "green" field a given.
After attending college, Hambly moved back home, bought the family farm and opened Jai’s Landscape Design business in 1986, where she specialized in constructing gardens and landscape architecture for those who enjoyed her same passion for plant life.
She sold her business and moved to Clearwater in 2006, and she soon realized there was a real need to educate people on the importance of what was in the food they were eating.
“I had been telling people, ‘You need to buy organic or grow your own.’ But most organics are shipped from elsewhere, and their nutritional value diminishes each day after they’re picked.
“Therefore the best nutritional value you can get is to grow, cultivate and cook your own food.”
Hambly started Organic Living in 2009, but soon outgrew the small home that was doubling as her workplace. A couple of months ago she discovered the spot that would become her new headquarters in a nondescript house on Patricia Avenue.
“I drove by and saw it and said, ‘I can create beauty here’. The first two gardens I planted here were miserable failures because of the soil. So I had to figure out how to grow food here, and that’s what I teach.”
In addition to selling a wide variety of plants and trees and running workshops covering everything from soil prep, composting and making teas and ice cream, Hambly and her assistant Jill Gatto import, market and sell a trio of products designed to promote healthy eating and living.
“The definition of a mineral is an element essential for life, and Garden Magic No. 1, imported from a mine in Nevada, provides 90 of the minerals essential for healthy living,” Hambly explains.
“Garden Magic No. 2 provides the microorganisms that are beneficial to healthy plants, and Garden Magic No. 3 is a superfood for plants. Put a generous amount of these products under the plant roots, over the top of the plants … and you will see results.”
Although the products are relatively inexpensive ($10 and $12 for a one-quart canister), the benefits they provide are priceless. The plants each have a distinct taste, property or power that can enhance flavor, spur growth, and even assist with healing.
That’s why Hambly believes it is so important to spread the word and get as many people turned on to organic living as possible.
“When you look at the rate of cancer, obesity and the health problems we have, ours is not a healthy culture. When you eat this food, you don’t need as much, you’ll be satisfied, and you’ll feel better,” Hambly said.
“People don’t know about this stuff yet. It’s my job to make sure they find out.”
Want to Go?
- What: Organic Living Garden Center, 601 Patricia Ave.
- Contact: 727-324-4435
- Hours: Tues - Sat, 9am - 5pm; Sun, 11am - 3pm; Mon, closed