Capturing Rain From One of Our Sheds

Capturing Rain From One of Our Sheds
These copper rain gutters are beautiful and help harvest rainwater!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Find That Sacred Space, and Find a Friend

As more and more women are recognize that they need that sacred, quiet space to retreat to in order to shed the stresses of the day, the she shed movement is growing ever more popular. Where men have their “man cave” filled with televisions, stereos and video games, women are using their sheds as places to create art, meditate or even to just unwind and take a nap. In this ever increasing busy world we live in, it’s more important than ever to have a place to retreat to handle life’s daily stress.

Author Erika Kotite recently published the book "She Sheds, A Room of Your Own," talking about this growing movement. A Place to Grow was lucky enough to be featured and Erika even put one of our She Sheds on the cover. Creating lifestyle spaces that make a difference in people’s lives is what we specialize in and we are so grateful for Erika’s work. She did a beautiful job of showcasing several of our other sheds and we are honored to be chosen for her book! Feel free to pick up a copy here She Sheds, A Room of Your Own

One of the cool features of the outdoor lifestyle structures we produce is each of our sheds is unique to each customer because of the materials used to build them. We are passionate about re purposing construction waste and turning it into and functionally artistic lifestyle spaces. Finding unique materials such as vintage windows and doors and bringing them together with reclaimed wood and corrugated metal is truly a passion of ours. We even have a huge inventory for our clients to choose from. It’s really fun to wander through our showroom and pick and choose which windows and doors represent your vision.

We truly enjoy co-creating these spaces with our clients, and are grateful that through the process of developing something custom and intimate just for them, they become our friends too.

I look forward to sharing more with you soon.
Dana O'Brien

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day holds a special place in my heart...

as it truly is a time to celebrate our earth and all she gives us! Each year on April 22 we get to celebrate through events that are held worldwide demonstrating support for environmental protection.
Earth Day was first celebrated in 1970, dating back to 1969 when peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace. This was followed a  month later by a separate Earth Day that was founded by Gaylord Nelson, a United States Senator, as an environmental teaching event first held on April 22, 1970. Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom Award in recognition of his work. Earth Day went international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations. Currently events are held in more than 192 countries worldwide. Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on environmental issues.

My personal belief is that we all need to honor, care for and connect with our Earth. It seems that there is a movement to make this a priority with several children's grassroots organizations sprouting up (pun intended) such as the Outside Now School that we recently donated a reclaimed wood potting table to. Their story is that a little village of families wanted to create a different way of educating their children, a way that immersed them in the natural world as a source of learning, in a way that a child's natural curiosity is extended with questions that guide them, a place where people of all ages pass forward their stories and talents.

Another children's organization that has a similar philosophy is Wellspring Children's Center where they have a garden and farm for their pre-school children that features a full garden with live chickens and rabbits, a painting studio, a Dress-up room, and group and individual reading nooks. The students have freedom to explore, question, and discover at their own pace, under the guidance of qualified, experienced teachers. Christian teaching, nutritious, mostly organic meals, and family-centered activities help foster healthy children with strong family bonds and values. “I believe every child is born with a Divine spark. Our job is to provide the environment for that spark to become a full blown fire. We consider it a privilege to partner with parents as they seek the very best for their children, and equip them to face life’s challenges.”– Susan Crook Wellspring Director.

The children getting the benefit of participating in the growing of the organic foods that they harvest and subsequently eat is powerful in many ways. I recently took a tour of their gardens and was delighted to see hay bale gardens, something I had not seen before. The garden/farm is a magical place for children to grow and learn. After watching my children grow up while attending much more structured public schools, it makes me wish that this movement had been happening then. While we have always had a garden at home while our children were growing up, it would have been a wonderful reinforcement to have had a garden/farm program for them to learn and grow in!

Enough looking back, looking forward at this next generation of young children that are learning to care for our Earth that will then grow into adult stewards of our precious Earth, now that makes my heart happy!

Happy Earth Day from me to you.....

Dana O'Brien
Owner, A Place to Grow

Friday, November 22, 2013

Gardening is on the rise...

with the local food movement growing. But gardening can have more of an impact on those who practice it than just the harvest at the end of the season. Most who garden, will express a deep connection with the earth. They are drawn to gardening because tending to the soil is calming, because feeling the earth in your hands is playful, and this type of "work" can replace an aspect that is  missing in our technological lives today. As James Jiler, the founder and executive director of Urban GreenWorks says, gardening  "allows people to connect to this primal state". Gardeners of all ages and backgrounds can tell you this pastime creates a beautiful connection with our Earth!

Besides this relationship, there are many other benefits to gardening that seem to be a little more tangible. Gardening has been found to reduce stress, even better than other leisure activities in many studies (CNN Health). It provides an outlet and allows our mind to wander in "effortless attention" rather than being pulled in a million ways at once. This aspect has been tied to relieving symptoms of depression and other mood disorders. As you might have guessed, gardening is also a form of exercise. It gets your blood flowing and you could even work up a sweat! You also have the added bonus of being outdoors in the sunshine which is always a mood booster.

Finally, it comes full circle. As gardening allows us to connect to our Earth it allows us to build a strong connection with the food we eat. "When you commit time, effort and money to caring for your plants, you naturally feel a stronger connection to the food they produce than something you just plucked off a grocery store shelf" says Mary Mazzoni, Assistant Editor of Earth911. This goes a long way to improving our nutritional values and our everyday food choices. Not to mention the fruits and veggies that will grow in a home garden will often taste better and be packed with more vitamins than those from the store.

Gardening is an all around good! It gets us in touch with our Earth and lets us enjoy the fruits- and veggies- of our labor, while promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Here's to wishing you a happy harvest and the motivation to get out and garden!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle...

 the "3 R's" of going green. At A Place to Grow we focus heavily on the reuse part of that saying. By finding a way to re-purpose materials from other buildings, houses, or commercial stuctures is a great way to lessen our environmental impact and add a special touch to the structure being built.

A large part of our recycled greenhouses is the wood we use to construct them. In our case we have chosen to "reuse" and build the greenhouses from reclaimed wood. Reclaimed wood is a great option and even better, allows us to stay true to our pledge of sustainability. So what exactly is reclaimed wood? It is any processed wood that is taken from its original implementation and used for some other purpose. This is where our job gets interesting. We search for pieces of barns, warehouses, or our special favorite, wine flavor sticks in an effort to build our greenhouses!

There are many advantages to using reclaimed wood. First and foremost, it lessens our negative environmental impact. This is achieved because it lessens the demand for new lumber, slowing deforestation. It decreases the amount of material sent to the landfill and there is less energy used to create new supplies. Secondly, reclaimed wood is usually harder and better quality because it has been harvested from an old growth forest instead of young trees. This aspect is great for building because it results in strong, reliable structures. Thirdly, is the look. Reclaimed wood normally has a worn, antique look to it that is very hard to come by with new lumber. This appearance allows for a very unique creation with each added piece. Finally, reclaimed lumber can come with a special story attached. Whether it came from an old ship yard, a family home, or a winery the story passed along with the material gives it character that you cannot come by any other way.

Reclaimed wood is an easy and fun way to build sustainably, and we can't wait to hear more of the stories that these pieces tell!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

This year...

as we rush toward the holidays, the time seems to be going faster than ever. There is the overwhelming feeling of constantly having to play catch up just to stay in the same place! It can be exhausting! In the midst of all this hustle and bustle at the start of this November, I was struck by just how important it is be full of thanks. All too often, Thanksgiving day only serves a small reminder once a year for us to remember what we're grateful for, when really is it so important to remember how much we have everyday!

Author Melody Beattie sums it up perfectly, "Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.  It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.  Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow."

This has inspired me, as I hope it will you to move forward practicing gratitude. Practicing gratitude, while seemingly tedious at first, has been found by multiple studies to be linked with more creativity, a healthier immune system, and even a stronger heart! It can strengthen your relationships with spouses, family and friends. Practicing gratitude can bring focus onto priorities and help you thrive.

Even though it may seem like this week has been particularly hard, or you are not where you want to be, or that no one else could possibly have it worse than you do, it is important to stay grateful. Because whether it is as big as the new job offer you just received or simply the fact you were able to get out of bed this morning, everyone can benefit from practicing gratitude everyday.

A Place to Grow is thankful for our opportunity to offer our services to the community while learning and sharing these experiences with everyone we meet! What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Fall is upon us...

you can feel it in the air! This year it seemed that summer kept us bathed in sunshiney warmth until late October, but with daylight savings time rearing its head, the chill and the colder temperatures are back.  However, as it turns out, fall and winter are excellent times to begin a flourishing vegetable garden!

Fall and winter gardening is an easy and productive way to replace essential nutrients that have been used up in the soil. And of course in a few months you'll have your hands on some delicious vegetables! So what are the best crops to plant this time of year?

Early Maturing Crops: (Mature after about 30 days)
-Broccoli, Mustard, Spinach, Leaf Lettuce, Chives, Radishes

Mid Season Crops: (Mature after about 60 days)
- Leeks, Turnip, Winter Cauliflower, Perennial Flowers and Herbs

Late Maturing Crops:(Mature after about 90 days)
-Carrots, Parsnip, Rutabaga, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbages

Listed here are just a few examples, but there are many vegetables that thrive during this season!
A key to the success of your fall/winter garden is to plant at a time when the roots can become established before an intense frost can occur. This can vary greatly, depending on where you live or even year to year.

There is no time better than the present to begin your fall and winter vegetable garden. Not only does this technique benefit the soil, it allows for color and diversity in your garden. As Robert Frost puts it simply, in his poem Blueberries, "Who cares what they say? It's a nice way to live, just taking what nature is willing to give"

Happy growing!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Blending Together Ideas...

Is something we try to do often at A Place to Grow. It seems that everyone has something beneficial to offer! So today, in honor of Halloween and the blending of ideas, I thought I would share one of my favorite fall crafts. The Succulent Pumpkin Planter! A perfect blend of the Central Coasts love for succulents and this season's symbol, the pumpkin. Though today is Halloween, don't worry, these decorative planters are the perfect accent for all of autumn or even year round.

In order to create this fun and easy twist on the typical Jack O' Lantern, here is what you will need:
  • A Pumpkin- Mix it up! Any shape, size, or color will work.
  • Serrated knife and scooping spoon
  • Potting soil
  • A variety of succulents
The process is pretty simple. First, cut a circle around the stem of the pumpkin (as you would a normal Jack O' Lantern). Remove the lid you have just created and begin scooping out all the seeds and gooey pumpkin insides. Then fill the inside half way up with soil and place in the desired succulent. Fill in the empty space inside the pumpkin with more soil, if needed. You're done, your very own Succulent Pumpkin Planter!

Enjoy spending time with your family and friends as we head into the thick of the holiday season, and remember use it as a chance to get creative with all you grow in your garden!