Growing: What I learned from Farmer Tony

  • September 20, 2015
  • From our Students

By Nicole Laing
4 Season Vegan

So this past weekend I attended an Intro to Backyard Organic Gardening Class, taught by “Farmer Tone” of Tropical Urban Farmer. It was a 2-hour introductory course which taught me about reconnecting with the earth, some gardening theory and then hands on practice.

Farmer Tone was an energetic ball of information throughout the 2 hour class. He’s well educated, having studied botany, massage theory and master gardening. He also knows 5 different languages! He’s set up multiple community gardens, studied farming with the Lakota tribe and works with the homeless to provide nutritional meals.

I really feel that his course should be longer, maybe even over a few days considering the amount of information he had to share. He taught me so much in the 2 hours, but to be honest I left the class with my brain feeling mushy and not retaining a lot. One thing I did hold on to is the idea of Lasagna gardening and living soil. Good thing too since the UN has designated this year as the “Year of the Soil”.

Here are the steps to Lasagna Gardening :

Gather Sunday newspapers or old cardboard.


Then collect “green” compost and lastly some “brown” compost. After you have all of the materials start layering as noted below.

Some examples of green and brown compost are:

“Brown” Compost


  • Dry leaves
  • Sawdust
  • Corn stalks
  • Pine needles
  • Straw

“Green” Compost


  • Grass clippings
  • Garden debris (avoid diseased plants)
  • Weeds (without the weed seeds)
  • Coffee grounds
  • Vegetable scraps
  1. Start by removing any plant debris from the soil.
  2. Place a layer of newspaper or old cardboard boxes on the ground.
  3. Place three or four layers of “Brown” compost and dampen with a garden hose.
  4. Then add “Green” compost materials.
  5. Keep building the pile, alternating green and brown materials.
  6. Wet each layer thoroughly as you go.
  7. Build the pile until it is at least six inches high and end with a brown layer which discourages insects from laying their eggs in grass clippings. Try to build up this pile within 2 weeks to give it plenty of time to decompose before planting season begins.
  8. Leave the compost alone and let Mother Nature do her magic. The decomposition process takes about 6 months and when complete, resembles rich earth.

The compost that Farmer Tony had, when dumped out, smelled like a rotting corpse. But he then sprinkled a little gardening lime on top and all I could smell was soil and coffee grinds. It really was miraculous!


If you are interested in sponsoring Farmer Tony’s class or in working with him on a future project visit his website or email him. He’s very receptive to bartering, sponsoring, donating.. anything that can help him spread the word about organic gardening!


Tell him Nicole at 4 Season Vegan sent you!

[envira-gallery id=”581″]


Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *