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Turning Black Thumbs Into Green Fingers: The Ventura Man Hoping To Help Novice Gardeners


Many of us have taken to growing our own herbs and vegetables, during the pandemic, according to one Ventura county farmer. 

Robert Campana, from Santa Paula, says he noticed a rise in demand by novice gardeners who were keen to get green-fingered but weren't educated in the basics of horticulture.

Gardeners like Jen Oakes, from Ventura, who says her previous attempts to grow her own produce have all failed. 

"I have always wanted to have a garden…but I killed everything…I killed succulents!” she told KCLU. 

Credit KCLU
Robert Campana has put together custom mail-order plant kits

"I thought I wish somebody could walk me through it…I don’t know when to plant what and how," she explains. 

Campana, who was running the family seed business, says Oakes is not unique in her lack of natural ability and launched a 'Leaf'd Box' - a customized mail-order plant delivery service. 

"What I found is that a lot of people thought they have black thumbs, but if you give them the right’s really do-able. What we are doing is giving people a pair of green gloves. It’s hard but not that hard at the same time, " says Campana. 

Oakes says that the pandemic was the perfect timing to get back to her green-fingered ambitions. 

"It’s been such a beautiful experience, it gave me something to do, right at the beginning of quarantine. It was something to put in our home which was new life." 

Campana says that he noticed demand for the boxes picked up during lockdown. 

"Life is kinda fragile, as we all realized in lockdown, and we trust in these big stores maybe a little more than we should. People wanted to learn more about how to grow their own food."

Jen says as well as having healthy home grown produce, there’s been one other unexpected benefit to her new-found hobby.

"It’s been such a connection point for me and my dad as now we have the garden to talk about, it’s become such a special part of it." 

Credit KCLU
He says that demand for his Leaf'd Boxes has spiked in the pandemic

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 7 Golden Mike Awards, 4 Los Angeles Press Club Awards and 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.
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