Oryana Natural Foods Market
Oryana Natural Foods Market
260 East Tenth Street | Traverse City, MI 49684 | (231) 947-0191

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Oryana Member Profile

June 11, 2012, 9:06 am

Although Oryana member-owner David Warren has only been gardening seriously for five years, you wouldn’t know it when perusing his 25 hand-built raised beds and collection of compost bins made from old wood pallets. David and his wife Carolyn have been Oryana members since the late 70s, and David is a Senior Day regular, bringing his 96-year old mother shopping on Wednesdays.

Although David is retired, he keeps plenty busy. “I do the gardening, cooking, and canning, and my wife still works full-time. It’s a great arrangement,” he says.

When I visited David on a beautiful June day, he was getting ready to plant 140 tomato plants, the seeds of which he saved himself or purchased at Oryana. I wanted to know what he does with so much food. “I give a lot of it away,” he explained. He also sells tomatoes, kale, celery, and fennel to the Cook’s House restaurant as well as at a stand on his road.

In addition to the tomatoes, David is growing brussel sprouts, broccoli, daikon radishes, kale, lettuce, arugula, sugar peas, red and russet potatoes, zucchini, summer and winter squash, and has plans to add perennial herbs and raspberries. His asparagus bed, which he started from wild seed, disappointingly did not produce this year due to an asparagus beetle infestation. 

Like any serious gardener, David has perfected his deer repellent strategy. After a 6 foot fence failed to keep the critters out, and the failure of an additional one foot extension, his fence is now 8 feet high, complemented by a scarecrow that he rotates periodically. “It even scared me at first,” he said, recalling being startled while working in the garden right after erecting it.

To keep track of what he plants in all those beds from year to year, David keeps a detailed garden blueprint. From experience and with help from one of his favorite books, “The Gardeners A to Z Guide to Growing Organic Food,” he makes sure to rotate the veggies and pay attention to companion planting.

David is a master of repurposing materials for the garden. With leftover screening he fashioned small cages to protect tiny seedlings from grasshoppers and other hungry insects. When this year’s winter storm damaged some of his trees, he cut them up for raised bed supports. His tomato cages are made from old fencing that he cut up into convenient squares. He even saves toilet paper rolls all winter to use as cutworm collars.

Worms in the compost

David's home-made screen guards to protect tiny seedlings.

Compost bins with compost in various stages of decomposition.

Raised bed full of snow peas.

Posted by at 9:06 am
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June 28, 2012 7:13pm
Olivia L.

That's very ambitious, what Dave is doing, a lot of work, with great results, and plenty of satisfaction, no doubt. And way to go, Dave's 96 year old mom!!

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