Urban Gardener Cultivates Hope, Produce, Community in Your Backyards

Professional vegetable grower Kate Olsen pulled up her Napa Valley roots and moved to Dallas where she’s sharing lessons gleaned while urban gardening for a world-class restaurant.

Lessons like: Backyards don’t need to be measured in acres to produce satisfying food and cultivating experiences.

“If we can understand what you’re looking for, I can help you curate a small space to hopefully meet your goals and teach you about it along the way,” Olsen said. “I learned about farming by way of talking to farmers and being employed on the team and just doing it and getting my hands in the soil.”

Her experiences include working for a California Montessori school, where she taught children basic agriculture and how to provide fresh produce for dinners. Later, Olsen spent five years tasked with the culinary garden and provided fresh herbs, flowers, and produce to the French Laundry restaurant under chef Thomas Keller.

“A lot of my mentors were chefs. Thomas Keller, in particular, was a huge influence and continues to be today on my mindset, my diligence, and my trade,” Olsen said.

“The hope is when we plant the seeds, how many days later, we will be able to harvest the fruits of our labor.”

Kate Olsen

Looking for a new adventure, she came to Dallas, where she has a sister, and began helping customers with renewed interest in gardening, “especially in these days where we’re spending so much time at home.”

University Park blogger Mary Meier-Evans, a People Newspapers contributor, bragged online about the “amazing” results in her backyard.

“For Kate, growing vegetables and herbs is not simply a way to supply a world-class restaurant,” Meier-Evans wrote. “Urban Gardening is an expression of her personal philosophy.”

Olsen sees the potential for meals to create community; gardens to cultivate responsibility, mindfulness, and a sense of purpose; and gardening to create curiosity leading to research and discovery.

“Farming is important for me because it relays back to the development of community around important parts of culture,” Olsen said. 

She gets excited about helping people grow together while producing food for their meals.

While Olsen plans on helping others reach their personal goals in backyard gardening, she also wants to own a farm one day.

“The hope is when we plant the seeds, how many days later, we will be able to harvest the fruits of our labor,” she said. “For me, as a farmer, that’s always been something that’s been like a mediation. What I do today matters – tomorrow it matters, a season it matters – a year from now.”

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