Welcome to my backyard!
Welcome to Casa Jardin, the name we gave our house after its extensive renovations. I’m Dr. John Z. (you can call me Dr. Z.) and my spouse’s name is Eddie. I earned my Ph.D. in geosciences while studying residents’ attitudes and perspectives about backyard food gardening for my dissertation. I also hold a M.S. in biology, with an emphasis on plant biology and general ecology. I have worked as a professional environmental scientist for more than 15 years focused on resource protection and have 7 years experience assisting in scientific research in ecology. I have been conducting research into sustainable urban agriculture for the past four years, centering efforts on quantifying the benefits of urban agriculture as related to resource conservation, urban ecology, resident’s barriers to urban food growing, household and community economics and urban food sustainability.
We live in a modest mid-century single family home in south Florida, just a few miles from the opulent seaside mansions of Palm Beach. I’m the grandson of an immigrant homesteader on the Iowa prairie and the farm is still in my family. Eddie was born and raised in New York City and worked in Manhattan’s financial district a good part of his career. Think Green Acres (the 1960s sitcom) meets the tropics.
My backyard has become an experiment in sustainable urban food production. I also dedicated a portion of the area for “prairie”- a place for butterflies, bugs, bees and birds to live. The links to the left will take you to pages of information about the various goings-on in the backyard at Casa Jardin. I also formed a company (Casa Jardin Co.), which offers general merchandise and services through this website.
The biggest news is that I am attempting to grow all of the vegetables I need for an entire year from my own backyard! I own a typical single family home lot of approximately 1/4 acre and grow vegetables only in the backyard- the front yard remains as it is, in order to blend in with the neighborhood. Click on the Research link to follow this study. If you want to see how I grow, the My Vegetable Garden link will take you to pages that will show you what I am currently growing and how I do it. The Resources page has links to fact sheets and other information to help you.
I created this website to be a place to share information about gardening, sustainable practices and to create a forum for sharing ideas through the community. I will provide results from my studies on sustainable urban agriculture. I will present these things through an honest perspective- no unrealistic standards for you to try to achieve or vegetables that look like they were created in a factory instead of grown in dirt. Blemishes are part of real life and you will see them here.
The website also has some entertaining and pleasant reading material. This includes essays on things that make life more wonderful, as well as the occasional oddity and pleasantry for those who don’t garden and don’t care about the science stuff. Rose, a featured columnist, gives her unique spin on cooking and housekeeping. There are original photography and artwork in the Galleries section. Most are outdoor or garden themed, but all are there for your enjoyment.
I appreciate your visit and hope you will return. If you like what you see, please become a regular part of this community of people who wish to do something special with their backyards, something that will give food or create habitat for wildlife. Your community will be a better place for it.