TOLUCA LAKE, Calif. — If you’re lucky enough to have a patch of dirt, you have everything you need to grow your own food. So how does one go about getting started?
“Let the sunshine in,” said actress Khrystyne Haje as she sorted through a bed of squash grown in her backyard.
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When Haje moved to her house in Toluca Lake, what she wanted most was to grow her own fruits and vegetables in her backyard. So she built some raised garden beds and got her hands dirty. But first, she needed some seeds.
“I’m what you might call a 'seed saver,' but I don’t even know if I’m saving them correctly,” said Haje. “It’s just that I buy almost exclusively organic and so then I plant the seeds of whatever I eat whenever possible.”
Haje has been on a plant-based diet much of her life, but she doesn’t consider herself a vegan or vegetarian. If anything, she’s a nature lover. Originally from Northern California, she grew up in a cherry orchard so she feels most at home with trees.
“She had a lot of peaches on her when I bought her,” said Haje as she watered a tree. “The moment they were ripe the squirrels got them. I continue to water her and nurture her in hopes that I will harvest them in time next year. In the meantime, I think I have some very happy, plump squirrels.”
And though Haje doesn’t mind sharing her harvest, she did spend a lot of time and water caring for her garden, but she does enjoy it.
“One of the totally fun things about growing your own food is when you get a huge amount of it. A proper crop!” cheered Haje as she showed off an armful of pomegranates.
But the last thing she wants to happen is to see her food go bad. Abundance is great, but it’s essential to be responsible with it and she’s got other plans for her pomegranates.
“Crazy part is you don't want these to go to waste,” said Haje.
So Haje is taking her pomegranates to Gelataria Uli in Downtown Los Angeles where they have a new service that turns your backyard fruit into gelato. Uli Nasibova is the owner and chef and she was inspired to reduce waste.
“Whenever I'm visiting my friends and I see, oh, you know a plethora of passionfruit or citrus or pomegranate,” said Nasibova. “I always have this envy. I wish I had this wonderful fruit in my kitchen so that I could turn it into gelato and sorbet, especially since a lot of it ends up on the ground either rotting, turning into compost or bird and squirrel food.”
“Ok, here we go,” said Nasibova as she scooped gelato made from Haje's fruit.
And it doesn’t take long. Within 30 minutes, Nasibova has turned Haje’s hard work into gelato, all made with fruit grown in her backyard.
“The name of this flavor is ‘Khrystyne’s Backyard,’” said Nasibova.
“I felt supported as someone that wants to grow my own food. Who wants to grow vegetables and fruit and share the abundance,” said Haje.
And now, thanks to Nasibova, she's sharing that abundance.