By Lajeune Hollis
“Grow what you eat, then you will be satisfied,” said Elijah Boles, owner and mastermind behind Just Mad Veggies, a gardening and apparel brand based in Oakville, Connecticut. “If you grow fruits and vegetables that you actually like to eat, chances are you won’t stop there.”
While still a child, Boles’ father inspired him to garden by sharing how to tend to a small garden his father and landlord took care of at their first apartment home. His father weeded the plants and then handed Boles the tomatoes and cucumbers. This simple act fostered a passion that would follow him throughout his life and eventually inspire him to start his business in December of 2020.
Boles started by growing organic and chemical-free vegetables, which led him down a health and wellness path as he and his workout buddy looked for better ways to fuel their bodies after track practice. While figuring out what to eat, they would often say “Let’s have grilled chicken and just mad veggies”—and the name stuck.
Now married, Boles is passing on the knowledge he learned from his dad two his two young daughters through gardening lessons. And it’s working–his three-year-old daughter can already distinguish between fruits and vegetables.
“If you grow fruits and vegetables that you actually like to eat, chances are you won’t stop there.”
Boles also encourages new gardeners to start off small—with just a tiny container on the window ledge—in order to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Through helpful tips, pictures and tutorials on the Just Mad Veggies website and social media, Boles brings a fun, modern approach to gardening. He shares advice on how to eat organic, healthy food without the expense, how to save and grow organic food, and how to grow urban gardens. He also shares how to change over gardens during season changes and highlights the therapeutic benefits of growing fruits and vegetables and even has a Gardener of the Month program.
In May 2021, Just Mad Veggies branched out to offer apparel, including baseball caps, t-shirts, tank tops and stickers. Boles will eventually offer seasonal apparel and plans to have Just Mad Veggies booths as festivals, markets and events throughout Hartford so he can interact in person with novice and veteran gardeners.
When asked what’s in his garden, Bole shared, “Last summer I grew three varieties of tomatoes, six [kinds of] peppers, three varieties of garlic, zucchini squash and yellow squash. From these vegetables I will make homemade salsa, bread and butter pickles and homemade pasta sauce. I have found that canning [food] not only helps to preserve your crops but also allows you to chill [foods] so you can use them later on in the year—I do not believe in waste.”
Eventually, Boles would like to grow sweet potatoes in his garden so he can make sweet potato pie and surprise his mother on a not-too-distant Thanksgiving Day.
Learn more about Just Mad Veggies or browse their online shop on their website, or follow Just Mad Veggies on Facebook or Instagram.
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