Gardening is something that Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin and his wife, Kasey, both grew up around. Last year, when they bought a house in Colorado, they easily decided that it was a project they wanted to take on.
Now, they’re preparing to plant enough food to host their own three-course meal. But, the process didn’t start out all roses and butterflies. Colorado isn’t the easiest place to grow plants, as it is particularly dry climate with a tendency to snow late in the spring and early in the fall.
In 2015, they tried an herb garden, which didn’t go as planned, but Kasey didn’t let that discourage her. When her and Clint moved back to Colorado in 2019, they bought a house. That’s when they really had the opportunity to work to grow the food they both grew up eating.
“We built one 4x8 garden box with tomatoes, bell peppers, and jalapeños,” Kasey said. “This year we have stuff to build two to three more garden boxes and adding on zucchini, cucumbers, basil, mint, cilantro, oregano.”
Caprese salads were a hit last year thanks to the fresh tomatoes, but this year, Clint has his hopes set on growing things he can not only eat but hopefully he can drink, too.
“I actually just ordered the barley seeds and the rhizomes for the hops,” Clint said. “I’ve actually never done any home brewing, so while they’re growing and harvesting, I’m going to put some practice in and try to perfect my recipe. I thought it was something cool, with so many craft brewers here in Colorado you kind of get some inspiration to try a hand at this as well.”
Kasey has been really appreciative of the process of gardening during this unprecedented time.
“Well this year, especially in quarantine, I think it has been really fun to have a little side project. I probably planted everything a little too early indoors, but it’s just been great to have something to take my mind off everything and watch them grow a little bit every day.”
In addition to the indoor planting, the Irwins have been setting up their garden boxes, which is no small project. Luckily, they also had a little help from their dog, Zeb, too.
“I think whenever you grow your own food, you gain a lot more respect for the farmers that are growing your food, and you realize how much work goes into growing and harvesting something so simple as a tomato,” Clint said. “It’s a long process, and you don’t realize until you actually do it yourself.”
Having a tangible reward helps make it all worth it.
“I think enjoying the food afterwards is the best part. My wife does a pretty good job of putting different meals together,” Clint said. “I don’t know if it's an actual thing, I just feel like you can taste the freshness more, and it is probably a product of putting your energy into it and literally seeing the fruits of your labor.”
The benefits to growing your own food on the environment can’t be disregarded, either. Long distance food transfers most often rely on a hefty amount of fossil fuels. There are also chemicals that go into the mass production of fruits and vegetables that can have harmful effects on the environment.
Clint and Kasey also appreciate the significance of self-reliance and how that impacts the overall greater good.
“When you buy food from the grocery store or at a restaurant, you’re a couple steps removed from the process of actually growing food,” Clint explained. “We are not farmers by any means, but we are trying our hand at it and we are trying to practice at least some sustainability.
“I think those things are important, I think if everyone had a home garden and we had communities that are based around those principles, I think we would all be a little more patient with each other and we would treat our resources with the care that is needed.“