By Heather West, DVI Intern
In honor of “Do your pART” eco-friendly Art Walk coming up on April 5, we talked with Nick Zimmer, a vendor at First Wednesday Art Walk and owner of Bluebird Growers, about why he loves Art Walk and providing fresh, locally-grown produce for Jacksonville.
Q: What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
A: They all sound pretty cliche but… I enjoy the freedom of planning a system and seeing it through. It can be overwhelming to deal with all the aspects of running a small business, but it forces you out of your comfort zone and makes you a stronger leader. Owning a business also leads to more confidence and purpose in your personal life.
Q: Why do you enjoy coming to Art Walk?
A: Art Walk provides a unique opportunity each month to showcase our artistic side. Our main mission at Bluebird is teaching people how to live sustainability and grow their own food. Getting people excited about plants through our living art pieces and unique natives, like our carnivorous plants, is a logical fit for Art Walk.
Q: I know your grandmother inspired the name Bluebird Growers; what have been some other influences on your business?
A: My grandfather owned a grocery store growing up. He would bring in thousands of small vegetable plants and flowers each spring. Consequently, we always had a huge veggie garden. That basically started me down this path from an early age.
Q: Are you involved with any partnerships with local businesses?
A: We have a very close relationship with Dave the Plant Man, local garden consultant/coach. We share similar missions and work together on a regular basis to grow our annual crop.
Q: What are some unique methods you’ve created to grow produce?
A: Funnily enough we are unique because we use straight forward traditional methods for growing. We are firm believers in using a plants own physiology and defense systems to produce happy healthy plants sustainably.
Q: What are some sustainable practices you’ve utilized?
A: We use a “lean and mean” growing system. Essentially we give the plants just enough food and just enough water to be healthy. We do this by utilizing slow release organic fertilizer and precise methods of irrigation. This system reduces water usage and runoff while producing healthy, strong plants. Another unique aspect of this system is that all our plants are produced outdoors. This means they are exposed to the same conditions as they will face in our customers’ gardens. It also exposes plants to natural predators which control insects without using pesticides. These are just some of the ways we produce plants in line with our mission.
Make sure to “do your pART” and bike to the First Wednesday Art Walk and check out Bluebird Growers’ demonstration of carnivorous plants; the Green Lion Festival on Laura St, and take advantage of the free bike valet in Hemming Park.