Root Revival plants a community-supported gardening model |

Root Revival plants a community-supported gardening model

Idea sprouted through a food truck

Mike McKinney, left, and Alexander Schenck stand in front of the greenhouse and adjacent garden area of Root Revival, their community-supported, no-waste garden planting and cultivating business.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Root Revival, like any good garden, started off with a seed.

In this case, the idea of the community-supported, no-waste garden planting and cultivating business founded by Alex Schenck and Mike McKinney sprouted when McKinney began offering some of his homegrown produce to Komrades, Schenk’s food truck, a few years ago.

“I worked with Alex and was growing some greens in my backyard, and when we started using them with the food truck, we had a really good reaction from the customers,” McKinney said.

The idea began to grow.

The two built an additional garden at Schenck’s house, where they would harvest beets, carrots and greens for the food truck.

“Mike told me how much he liked growing, and that he had the capability to grow so much more,” Schenck said. “And that’s how the idea was born.”

Once both gardens began to flourish, McKinney and Schenck began looking for a place to plant another garden.

“The idea came up about us planting other people’s gardens, but still keeping our own communal food thing,” McKinney said. “So we went in search of others who would be down to have their own gardens at their houses.”

The idea was to let the owners of these additional gardens harvest what they could and then offer the excess to their friends, family members and neighbors.

“The idea is that the community of growers could feed themselves,” Schenck said. “Then we thought what if there were 10, 20 or 40 people doing this, we could essentially feed the community without trucking food across the country or stuffing it into plastic bags.”

Once the garden owners had eaten or given away as much as they could, they could give the rest to Schenck and McKinney, who, in turn, would donate the food to local food banks or supply restaurants who wanted to source locally.

“We also have a small number of community-supported agriculture boxes, so when we harvest, we would take a box to people who needed the food,” Schenck said.

As the idea evolved, Schenck decided to put his food truck on hold and, with McKinney, turn Root Revival into a full-time gig.

Gardening boxes are a big part of Root Revival, a gardening service that helps the public install vegetable garden beds and irrigation systems. Founders Alex Schenck and Mike McKinney also plant fruit trees and herb gardens, place beehives and protect gardens from wildlife.
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

The two offer an array of gardening services at private homes that include installing vegetable garden beds and irrigation systems, planting fruit trees and herb gardens, placing beehives and protecting gardens from wildlife.

“We also have an assisted-garden program, where we can plant a garden and then do some check-ins to see how things are going,” McKinney said. “It feels so good to be planting all this food at people’s gardens and sharing it.”

Some check-ins are done by phone, Schenck said.

“We touch base with the growers during important intervals and tell them what to look for and what they should expect in their gardens,” he said. “We just want to make it easy for you to grow. We can also do all the growing and maintenance for you.”

Schenk and McKinney also know that Park City has its own challenges when it comes to a reduced growing window and harsh growing climate due to its high altitude. So the two have created what they call a “cold-hearty list” of produce that can handle a mild snowfall.

“This list includes different types of greens like kale, lettuce, Swiss chard and arugula, and also includes root vegetables such as radishes, beets and carrots,” Schenck said.

The list also features other “hearty” vegetables such as sweet peas, green beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cilantro, parsley and dill.

“If people plan accordingly, they can also grow zucchini and certain types of tomatoes,” Schenck said.

Schenck and McKinney believe the Root Revival concept, which also has gardens in Heber and Salt Lake City, can reduce the use of pesticides and loss of biodiversity in the community.

“We can help set up future generations to become more independent, because there is no waste,” Schenck said.

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