The Growing Connection began with Rock ‘n Roll.
The year was 2001, and TGC’s founder, Robert Patterson, was working with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization to create a concert series called Groundwork. This week-long series of sold-out concerts was broadcast to an audience of millions around the world to support the work of small-scale, people-oriented horticultural initiatives.
These concerts, featuring artists like R.E.M, Dave Matthews, Pearl Jam, Mana, Alanis Morrisette, Heart, provided the impetus to start The Growing Connection, which officially launched in Ghana in 2003.
From the beginning, The Growing Connection focused on activities that allowed sustainable and high-yielding food production but did not require significant capital or on-going operating expenses. TGC’s installations featured innovative horticultural systems designed to be easily adopted by the end-users themselves, to immediately enhance nutrition, and for income generation.
Growing to over 3000 participants across Africa, Latin America, Canada, and the USA, over 120 sustainable gardens setup at schools, health clinics, youth/women’s associations, and in partnership with the corporate sector with clients such as Google and Harvard University.
After more than 30 years with the UN, Robert made a shift from a large international organization to a small social enterprise EcoHeurto, founded in 2011 in Guadalajara Mexico. This move allowed Robert to direct his efforts to bring sustainable food production to even more schools, individuals, institutions, NGOs and communities starting with the Mexican market. With its 12-month growing season, diversity of climate/geography, and unique social/economic demographics, it served as an ideal site for the North American and Latin American market.
In 2015, Robert returned to Canada to focus on the next chapter of The Growing Connection. He has partnered with Chris Wong, a Toronto-based entrepreneur and gardening guru, to help bring sustainable food production across all of Canada.
The Growing Connection, like its sister company EcoHeurto, is based on the principle of the prioritizing value of “Universal Products” – those products which are affordable, simple, low-cost to operate, and universally rewarding to their users. For example, a bicycle is a universal product; a car is not. TGC’s Caja is our version of a universal product – rewarding you equally, whether as a grower/user, you are in a Mexican barrio, unemployed, or whether you are Bill Gates.
In addition, following the ideas of Bill McKibben, in his book, Deep Economy, TGC decided to put an emphasis on direct human contact in every transaction, to build personal knowledge of our suppliers, and staying as “eco-sensible” as possible. These values are at the core and are guiding principles of our operations. We believe in operating a sustainable, green, fun, and tasty business with the Caja at the core of our product line.
Food and gardening can connect us all…. we all need to eat.
Whether at home, at school, at work, or any other group or community you’re involved with, we hope to help re-introduce “Health and Taste” into the lives of everyone who wants it, in a way that is affordable, environmentally “low-impact” and with a huge potential for success and personal reward for every user.