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

Nov 9, 2020

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. 

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

"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 tools...it’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." 

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