ODESSA - In the world of fashion it is common, even expected, to find a popular trend from decades ago, tweak it a little and declare it's made a "comeback." You won't hear the name "Peter Kanaris" uttered near the runways of Paris or Milan; he's been in the landscaping business for 12 years. But he and his wife Melissa are applying the what's-old-is-new-again philosophy to home horticulture with their new business, GreenDreams, through which they want to take an extremely popular trend of the early 20th century and reboot it. They want to bring back the Victory Garden.At GreenDreams, 14510 Black Lake Road, homeowners can pick up the information, materials and even the hands-on assistance to turn their yards into productive, possibly even profitable, home farms. "You could live off your back yard," Peter Kanaris said. And history proves it. The "Victory Garden" movement was introduced in World War I and was even bigger during World War II. With manpower, fuel and transportation diverted to the war efforts, people were encouraged to grow their own fruits and vegetables. At one point in the 1940s, it's estimated nearly half of the nation's produce was coming out of home gardens, which not only helped the war effort but proved to be a public morale booster, giving people a sense they were doing their bit for the cause. Today, many household budgets are strained beyond the breaking point. At the same time, many people are concerned about chemicals and genetic modifications that are prevalent in commercially grown produce. For all these reasons, many people have started looking at home gardening, including the Kanarises. They began converting their back yard and learning more about organic farming, and the ecological and economic advantages became as much a personal matter to them as a professional one. "A lot of what is done on a farm can be done on your property, as well," Melissa said. "Now is a great time because there are so many people who are unemployed, who don't have work and are living on government provisions, they could do this to provide their own food." Along with feeling self-sufficient and knowing you can put food on the table no matter what, Peter added, it is uniquely satisfying to plant something and watch it grow. GreenDreams offers education and assistance in the practice of "homesteading," growing one's own food using organic gardening, composting, backyard livestock, rain collection and energy alternatives. For experienced home gardeners, the shop has edible and medicinal trees, berry bushes, heirloom seeds, organic fertilizers and nutrients, organic pest control, books, rain barrels and raised garden beds. They also showcase vertical tower gardening in stackable growing containers, in which herbs, strawberries, and lettuces can be grown in great quantities in a small amount of space. For those with less experience, they are happy to get them started. "There are five or six classes that we give; some of them are for free," Melissa said. Peter, along with permaculture designer Eric Stewart, will go to people's homes, assess their land space and help them design and even build their gardens. Stewart also runs a website, www.CodeGreenCommunity.org, for local growers to share tips and ideas. Another aspect of home gardening is you can cultivate a network of new friends. GreenDreams is open from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For more information, call (727) 462-5326, email [email protected] or visit the company website, www.greendreamsfl.com. GreenDreams can also be found at www.youtube.com/greendreamsfl and at www.facebook.comGreenDreamsFlorida.
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