When Mark Teich and his wife moved from Manhattan to South Salem, N.Y. in 2002, Jill wasn't too happy about leaving the city. "Mark decided to build her a vegetable garden to get her into the spirit of living in the country," says Jamie Friedman, Mark's friend and business partner.
Mark's main challenge was figuring out a way to keep the local wildlife from eating the plants. He enlisted Jamie to help build a sturdy fenced enclosure that looked attractive. Inside, the pair built raised beds, which they filled with organic soil. They also added an irrigation system.
The garden came out so well that they built a second one for Jamie. Soon neighbors and friends were lining up for their own Teich gardens . Noticing the dilapidated garden at their children's elementary school in South Salem, the entrepreneurs decided to donate a Teich garden to the school and designed it so that kids in wheelchairs could participate in gardening classes.
In 2006, Teich Garden Systems LLC was launched. Today there are Teich gardens in 22 states. Many of them are in schools and community centers, as well as at Boys & Girls Clubs . Jamie has found that Teich gardens can have a positive effect on rundown neighborhoods. "We put one in for the West Palm Beach, Fla. Boys & Girls Club," says Jamie. "The club was in a really sketchy neighborhood with syringes on the ground." The organizers called a meeting with the "troublemakers." They explained that the kids were going to grow vegetables and start a food bank. As the kids and their mentors worked in the garden, the "troublemakers" moved elsewhere.
Teich gardens can last for years with minimal maintenance. Each is custom-designed and comes with raised beds bordered by stone paths, integrated irrigation, organic soil and organic starter plants. Heavy-duty metal fencing keeps animals out and provides support for climbers, such as peas, beans and squash.
Jamie likes the fact that schools in both Westchester and Fairfield Counties use the gardens to teach kids about growing food and healthy eating. "Kids will eat anything they grow," he says. "If they see a friend eat a radish and survive, they'll eat one too."
Do you know anyone with a Teich garden?