266. Get your garden body on! | Edible Flowers • Microclimates | Agriscaping Green Business Opportunities with Justin Rohner | Gilbert, AZ

Justin Rohner is a presenter and speaker and owner of Agriscaping!

I didn’t realize you have a restaurant.


Tell us a little about yourself.

Serve a number of restaurants in the Phoenix. About me and who I am which is sort of a serial entrepreneur.

honed my skills to put all my eggs in one 


I’m all about improving

  • local food economies
  • strengthening families
  • strengthening communities

what I’m doing fits into one of those categories.

Tell me about your first gardening experience?

born in Alexandra VA just outside Washington DC, my dad was in the FBI

I remember a forest, living in a forest and went back and visited it was 4 trees thick by a busy road! It was nothing but a couple of trees but I was a kid.

I moved to Arizona when I was young

Being in the garden with my mom little kid

probably about five years old peas

seeing this caterpillar rolling across the

slow motion

tiny thing in the garden I could be with the caterpillar

infatuated by everything about how plants grew and that we could eat this stuff

My mom telling me about how the butterflies

oddly enough same time of year we’re doing this recording when that 

whole scene played itself out. From then on you couldn’t get me back inside. 

My mom would yell and I didn’t even hear here because I was just so engrossed in how life worked. 


continue to expand

first passionate experience to be in the garden and what it tasted like and how something that had grown

I think a lot of my listeners are going to relate to that story about being kids like that and getting lost in the garden maybe even today as an adult!

How did you learn how to garden organically?

back then

backyard gardening

there really was only

we had our compost piles

grandpa owned a dairy farm

last in Tempe Az where AZ State U resides

dairy farm in the family

seeing all that stuff work

too normal

Distracted me a lot from making this a profession is it was so normal as a kid it was just the normal thing

  • easy stuff
  • tech stuff
  • hormone

belittle to use methods

I watched that side of the family business shift the way of all the. world that twas

I always loved the organic method

  • easier
  • less expensive

In my mind it was cheaper, I wasn’t trying to run a commercial so I didn’t need all that techy stuff

grew stuff the way I knew


photo by Agriscaping

Agriscaping is a blend of the best of productive agriculture best of ornamental landscaping!

Integrating all the things we do not just food

growing production into a landscape!

Easy to maintain

integrating local food into the local economy

foods for fodder for animals and textiles

types of things we’re growing too are different then you would expect! 

I’m in Pheonix, AZ where the temps get in the 120ºs

winter now the temp was below freezing this morning

weird but that’s how deserts work and the high today is going to be 71º

Do plants like that or does it make it harder to grow?

It makes it a little challenging

we know we’re still headed into some freezes

drop by checking out some of their trees. 

Their desert gold peach is starting to bloom! I say ought oh?! We might have some freezes

  • gonna lose all of it’s fruit
  • damage production
  • too early in it’s cycle

In the extreme heat it’s definitely a challenge.

Our break of the year is usually during June and August. That’s when we back off most of our planting and growing

that’s where the major stress


  • sweet potatoes
  • sunflowers
  • jerusalem artichokes

There’s a lot of cool things you can grow during that time but relatively speaking that’s when we take a break.


photo curtesy of Agriscaping

One thing I saw on your site was your edible flower guide and you have a lot of classes.

we have a ton of different classes

elegant edible approach

integrate that into the food economy

cool technology

blending technology with traditional practices and a lot of design

a lot of artist in me

I can’t help but make things look good

Having restaurant gardens in Scottsdale. the way we got that approved was to 

  • align the beauty
  • integrate beautify


edible flowers

work them into their salads and even some of their drinks

  • pansies
  • violas
  • petunias

this time of year

petunias in salads

edible flower guide

get to know what types of flowers are edible.

Can I ask you, do they have to be special? I mean can you eat just any petunia?

I would be careful where you get it

industry for flowers

  • petunias
  • pansies
  • especially begonias

systemic pesticide is one that they will either spray on the plant or put it in any granules uptakes inside the plant

anything tries to eat it the bug

cellular level

infused with the pesticide is not something you want to eat, that will cause digestive challenges

systemic pesticides

ensure your getting stuff organically grown source for organically grown flowers!

great relationships with our nursery

agriscaping hub

will have preferred nursery sourcing grown in a way

system supported where you can trust the sourcing

that kind of agriscaping certified sourcing

We had to create that sourcing ourselves because it didn’t exist in the market place

Do you want to tell people, a lot of my listeners have been growing a long time, but interested selling at market but maybe selling some of their produces


not really a channel

there’s actually 5 different certifications


Justin is a natural teacher!

DIY Agriscaping Mastery Program

Teaches you all the aspects

outdoor to indoor

all the integrations

microclimates so you can understand how to expand without hoop houses

integrate the beauty no matter what the sun orientation or shade orientation in your property or forest you can grow food

Agriscaping Educator Certification

create these little teaching platforms teach our 

ACES so they can help families

garden consultant


families become productive

Agriscaping Design certifications 

from people have never done it before but are interested in it or people who have been landscape architects for years, enable them to add a new component and expand their offering

professional approach

Agriscaping Contractor Certification

licensed contractors that can implement these designs and build these machines

when designed right is a machine that not only looks amazing but produces revenue for homeowner

Rate on the expense


18c garden and a 24 carat garden

qualify what kind of productivity

installed the way we do it, and then maintained the way our 

agriscaping pros

another certifications


business model

We teach a class on 7 ways to garden and get paid

there’s also a lot of other ways

How a diy can garden and get paid

I was a hobbyist that grew and attracted enough income to pay for my hobby

more and more people kept asking how I did it and what I did? 

It really all started from a hobby that I chose to make a professional hobby

it’s own industry basically is what’s really pulling out of it. 

What we have built in these programs is a shorter journey, for anyone who wanted to get involved and get started doing this quicker. I started this in 2001

professional hobby side

built it to what it is today

this is a great year to get involved

we developed the hub systems

scalable to be

no matter because of the tech we have brought to it!

One of the upsides is you are not doing this on your own land so that would be a barrier that a lot of people have is not owning their own property. I think it’s also good timing, you’re finally hearing people talking about climate change on the news and millennials are getting older and they seem to be interested.

Tell us about something that grew well this year.

definitely have a garden 1/4 property

strict HOA driven subdivision

Even in my 1/4 acre I have 72 fruit trees growing in the garden backyard


grass the kids grow well in grass, better then in the garden. I have a bad mitten net

useful to the function of my home

trampoline subterranean garden


shade loving edibles a lot of fun loving vegetables

one of my favorite things

Jamaican hibiscus 

It grew amazing! It loves the heat! It produces! A wonderful don’t even remember what we call the


We don’t eat the flower, let it turn into a roselle that is encasing the seed pod and the outer part

The kids call it the healthy sour patch kids

petals are sour

almost lemony sour

same thing they make red zinger tea with

hibiscus lemonade, you can make a lemonade about of that without any lemon at all.

roselle petals


they grow amazing the restaurants loved them! 

They integrated them into a number of different drinks

It’s a sour leaf which makes it a fun add to a salad!

triple crown type plant

roselle fruit

leaves you can eat

the stalk is a good fiber just as good as jute

You can use for rope, we used the stalks to make our twine that we wrap our veg in at the markets


quadruple crown of a plant we are able to grow this year!

Wow awesome! Lots of great information there? Does that grow in other places like Florida, and Texas?

it can grow pretty much anywhere you have a good amount of warmth

4 months above 70 degrees

It can take the hottest sunniest spot

I recommend you let it grow from a seedling with no more then 4 leaves! Greatest success with a plant that is transplanted early

If you do it later it stunts it growth!

4 feet high

It made a beautiful hedge with a red hue to them, very pretty plant almost a serrated leaf

keep a round shape

deep red

stalks are deep red with a green leaf dark stems really cool plant!


Is there something you would do different next year or want to try/new?

I’m always trying new stuff

different varieties of melons

santa claus melon

invented another

A Cucualope

we call it a cucalope! It was an unintentional cross

  • cucumber
  • heirloom cantaloupe

They cross-pollinated and we ended up with the seeds out of the melon

replanted them

elongated cantaloupe

taking it and stretching it out about the size of a large zucchini but it still had the netting on the cantaloupe

had a sour melon kind of flavor

awesome on salad

bright orange interior

It was sort of a sour melon! IT’s own melon!

Sounds good and different to try because salads can get boring sometimes!

Tell me about something that didn’t work so well this season.

For us it’s always a matter of location

understanding where the microclimates

the Australian finger-lime We anticipated it would work with a C zone one of the best

c-Zone gets: 

  • morning shade
  • afternoon sun
  • reflected heat

We figured it would work similar to other plants we got from Australia! We were dead wrong! It actually needs to be on the other side of the house

A microclimate

It likes morning sun and afternoon shade and likes to be wet all the time!

as apposed to drying out a bit between waterings be wet all the time

almost like an avocado or even on the same schedule we were doing the banana

awesome plant

Again, awesome but in the wrong location~ a huge disappointment

even though you might have traditional planting calendar

likely never tested it in a different microclimate

relative difference between 30-40ºs around your property just based on microclimates in sun and shade

What that does is expand the climate you can grow from

  • you can usually go plus or minus two zones
    • microclimates correctly
  • don’t have to buy stuff in the zone that you live
  • expand out in 2 directions what you can grow viably at your home

So how did you figure this out? Did you test all your products?

What made you think to try it on the other side of the house?

That’s what we do! I’ve been doing this for years!

In 2001, we literally moved into our first house! Me and my wife! We closed on 9/11. So having food supply didn’t feel safe. Things didn’t feel safe!

I was adamant I was gonna find a way to grow food on my yard.

I had the worst microclimates ever!  It was so small! And there was no where in full sun and best place to grow was in my front yard on this little cul de sac.

The best place to grow was in my front yard and that’s the one the HOA holds under the most scrutiny.

Forget the Calendar!

I had to find a way to figure out a way to integrate things in and grow stuff.

I’m like forget the calendar! I’m just gonna planting

  • things I like
  • and I’m gonna plant them every week
  • every location 

and see

  • what works?!

  • when?!

  • Why?!

  • How?!

And that’s what we do!

Since that time, I continue to track, and every time I do I different times during the year, outside the regular calendar and see what grows in those 6 different microclimates. 

At one point I had 24 different microclimates but realized it was just too hard to remember. It’s certainly too hard to train.

We simplified it down to the 6 major microclimates every yard has.

We started reclassifying how things grow in each of those and establishing a calendar in which each one of those in pretty much any location in the nation.

Based on crop calendars

We have now increased your planting schedules by 6 times! The traditional planting calendar in every municipality is a traditional B zone calendar which is for full sun place!

We found that there are 5 other zones you can grow in and so we expanded the

variety of thins you can grow in your yard.


This lovely oasis photo is curtesy of Agriscaping!

Is that by moving them, putting things by a stone wall or in a shady area? IS that it?

Yes! I can actually grow melons in a Czone because it has afternoon sun and reflected light and radiant heat from my west facing yard. it ends up warmer. It is always warmer and stays warmer then the east side of my house which is the Azone! Which gives me a jump on the summer season in that space but I can extend my winter season on the other side in the AZone.

I would normally  have to stop in March with my greens growing, but I can go on into June with my traditional lettuces by growing in my A-Zone as opposed to my full sun B-Zone, I can literally get lettuce all year round even though according to all the info out there is that farms only work in one zone B! Full sun!

Always full sun, that is the optimal place to grow! And their timelines are made but we have developed

for each one of

  • plant a farms
  • optimal place to grow
  • time lines based on that

created garden software

We teach it all in the mastery course so people can map out their entire yard and be able to schedule things in to rotate

Extend their season

I think that’s what makes your course super valuable is it will enable them to go into communities and teach others how to do that make them a more viable business. It gives them a jump on traditional practices out there. 

cool thing to think about


Look at what your yard is worth! look at your square feet you have!

We have over 300 varieties of edibles you can grow in full shade

tons of things you can grow in every microclimate. A number you can put to paper

  • for every month you can grow in
  • any month you can grow that’s not freeing

It’s worth about $1.00 per month per year per square foot. So if I have 100 square feet I can produce 100$ worth of produce  month

If I can grow 10 months I can grow

then in 1 square foot

$10  year

now that’s worth 10 x that

$1000 I can do in 1000 square feet. 

If I have an acre, this is where I have an acre

1/2 of that

an acre is 43,560 square feet 

If I only use 20,000 square feet

$10/square foot per year

$200,000 revenue source production I can create out of my garden and again only 50% is food

  • pathways
  • house

production is enhanced with the use of microclimates

techniques we use in design


Don’t need anything but hand tools

the whole system runs off hand tools.

It sounds so interesting, I’m such a data junkie but talking to you Im feeling like maybe Im not such a numbers girl.

engineer nerd

grandfather impressed up one me you can’t make money on agriculture, part of his reasoning was he was gonna sell me the farm. I got into engineering

trained me a lot

loved the numbers game on how things grow and creating a science out of it so it’s more repeatable. 

I found you because you’re speaking in NY? IS it over the NY Conference? 

engineering concepts

researched the Agriscaping technology. 

I love the numbers game and how things grow and

there’s always another conference

I will be in NY this summer, I’m going on a bit of tour

  • up in Maine
  • Minnesota

growing networks in New York so were gonna be there this summer

So they would probably sign up for your email? And see where you’re gonna be?

  • touring
  • see the schedule
  • free online classes
  • usually nationwide
  • local course near them they will be able to get access

Which activity is your least favorite activity to do in the garden.

I guest pest management, I’m not a big fan of it. It’s my least favorite thing

I am always hoping I’m growing things enough that I like to see the balance in the garden, I don’t mind a bug here in there but if things are going so bad that they are creating little nets and they are sucking the life out of my plants then that’s my least favorite things

killing two things the plant and the bugs and creatures who are just trying to help

Do you have one tip quick to deal with pests at all?

I would say a plant positive approach will help every time. 

keeping your plants healthy

soil is the first step

natural way

adding more nutrient and supporting that which will support the healthy plant which will create the waxy coating on their cells which will put out more fibers that prohibit bugs eating to much of them

don’t attract

Another trick is to do a trap plant,

sometimes I’ll put an artichoke in a less favorable plant in order to attract all the aphids and then attracts all the

  • lady bugs
  • lacewings
  • assign bugs

attracting to the garden and they stick around longer then the bad guys do!

We had a year where Mike planted a lot of broccoli and it was completely covered in bugs like it was moving, and none of the other plants seemed to get attacked.

It’s a cool techniques

You know it works when you see more lady bugs and beneficials in your garden!

they do stick around longer

beneficials have enough of a supply of food to lay eggs and have prosperity!

What is your favorite activity to do in the garden?


IDK if there is a favorite, it’s like if you like ice cream which one is your favorite, a scoop of that and that? 

I love being in it the difference that it makes! The only thing that you can see from the beginning to end. 

you can see the change at the end of the workout

Get your garden body on!

You don’t need a beach body get a garden body! 


creating on

the action


all in a garden

little bit to get each of those things

Did you go to public school as a kid? Where did you get all this passion and energy?

I attended public schools



My mom was part of a thing called Joy School!

If you ever heard of Joy School

  • teach you how to love learning
  • spontaneous delight
  • looking for the love of learning
  • in a very positive way

tiny little toddler

From my perspective

I trained in the joy of learning and never poopooing  it

I still loved learning asking questions

everybody’s got something that brings that out in them! 

They have a topic or subject they love that brings them out

that’s the right emotion

if you are going to have an emotion that’s useful it’s just 


what are you naturally curious about?

Follow your curiosity and get answers

natural curiosities

keep moving along a path

things they are likely can make a difference about

allow that curiosity to guide your passion

there’s no such thinking as

  • serve people in the process
  • be curious
  • service to others

working really is

finding something that can be such a service they are willing to pay money to receive it!

You are a unique individual. I love It reminds me of an interview I did with Sam Lillie who I was like you’re gonna be the next CEO of amazon. I wish you could be our Secretary of Education of the country or the head of the EPA, one or the other. We need so many people out there with your type of thinking. 

What is the best gardening advice you have ever received?

make a routine of it

as easy and as much of a routine as getting dressed in the morning

part of your everyday

improve your life so many ways it makes the whole process easy, so that it becomes a mindless activity which means you can bring any of your challenges to the garden with you and find resolve in the act of gardening.

Make it a routine

find the routine that works the best.

work our system

3 simple tests to gardening success

get to know that, and examples of

mini routines to create

part of your daily meditation and a gift to your self that gives back in so many ways. 

I think you are inspiring so many people today!

A favorite tool that you like to use? 

If you had to move and could only take one tool with you what would it be?

I think just a multi tool

  • blade on one side
  • forked top
  • shove end

AMES Garden Tools

  • handle with an ergonomic hammerhead on the back

usually in my back pocket or I have a sheath for it if I don’t have a pocket

all my gardening work

harvesting work

hybrid Japanese garden knife with a little bit of a spoon to it.

measurements on the spoon, all the way up the handle so everything is right there in one tool!


photo curtesy of Agriscaping

A favorite recipe you like to eat from the garden?

ultra fresh

My favorite salad is the one we do in our garden

I just set up a table between two raised beds and you reach back and grab the parts you want. Is that a recipe? reach back and grab it!

A favorite internet resource?

Actually at this point now I end up searching my own website to remind me of things.

I do that too! I was literally on my friends website the other day saying how do you not have a search bar I use it more then anything to find links, or what did this person tell me to deal with tomato problems. 

Your website looks like it has a ton of info!

Yeah there’s a lot in there, if I don’t have a search bar, please let me know. 

A favorite reading material-book, mag, blog/website etc you can recommend?

I guess right now when it comes to my gardening stuff.

one of my favorite books that’s kind of helped me a lot recently is called 


Temple Square Gardening

Theories of making something look natural and also make it look like a botanical garden to make it look amazing

temple gardens

based on decades

met one of the authors recently so I was able to learn from him.

It’s really neat with edibles.

It’s kind of an obscure book.

Can I ask you a question. One comment I have been getting is people don’t want to compost. Do you have that problem with people?

oh yeah

Compost concerns

  • bugs
  • flies

Then you’re just doing it wrong

if you do it right it is an easy process. It’s not complicated, if you like to

anything within 16 days


16 day science that was a lot of work

I’ve got system in my yard

shovel things

  • moist enough
  • fast enough

I’ve got good product on the bottom and it’s layered

There is a recipe for your garden

and the type of waste you have

In the mastery program we teach a whole recipe lesson and how to create a specific recipe for the waste your producing

  • how to classify it
  • create your recipe that creates the optimum break down rate
  • electives in the whole system
  • many videos there

Once you get it dialed in, it’s a very simple process, you don’t have to go buy bags at the store this summer, you can use the stuff you build yourself! 

If you have a business to you have any advice for our listeners about how to sell extra produce or get started in the industry?

we do if you do a search for the 

7 ways to garden to get paid 

is a free course I offer how to set up on these business models.

what are your revenue sources

based on what you enjoy doing most so it is easier for you.

produce locally 

The first clients that are easiest to sell to are probably going to be your neighbors

privately owned grocery store


had our own little section all grown just by us.

restaurants if you can find the one thing they need that

A lot of it is just by asking questions what do you want to grow for you?

starting to grow for them!

community supported agriculture

Inquiring of the community in what they want

getting them to invest

They will pay you in advance if you can prove and trust that your can grow what you say you can grow!

helps you figure out the first place to start

for all of us it’s a little bit different

You can self align with what’s easiest to start with and identify the modality there.

easiest one to start

I’m gonna check it out, we’ve been trying to grow what we can for us, and then if we can expand I have seen little sections in the grocery where things are grown at yadayada farm.

Final question-

if there was one change you would like to see to create a greener world what would it be? For example is there a charity or organization your passionate about or a project you would like to see put into action. What do you feel is the most crucial issue facing our planet in regards to the environment either in your local area or on a national or global scale?

One of the major things I have seen is missing

is perspective  on a truly local food economy

Working on with our food hub where the only comes with in 15 miles of it’s sale point but that doesn’t exist. 

What they consider local now is 500 miles

food sources

national average

that would change how everything works

integrated into local landscapes

Integrated and it’s much more stable

salmonella breakout with romaine lettuce to knock out all sales around the country. 

only reason that occurs where food came from

That is a huge risk to everyone

Truly localized system!

15 mile radius

rather then 500 mile

just having that perspective will shift 

what people are growing and how people are growing

shift things in perspective

How would that work? You couldn’t get all of your food in 15 mile?

you could

we’ve been proving model here

what ends p happening

look at seasonality


  • indoor growing
  • aquaponic system

beautiful fishtanks with some awesome fish in it where the filtration system is a wall garden

very productive

extreme heat production

decrease overweight scenarios

those kind of things

We don’t want it to happen but if a major catastrophes happened

if the shipping system shut down, like we only have a 4 day food supply in Phoenix market

shift to it

choose to living more locally and seasonally of a mass system 

Wow, how many people know how many days the system is in their market area? I always vision aquaponics in our grocery store, that I visualize the produce guy not putting lettuce on the shelf, cutting the lettuce for you. 

nature it

If you ever go to Scottsdale, AZ go to sky song

see some examples

rooftop gardens we’re gonna be installing in a few months or so and we have these wall gardens with the aquaponics so you’ll be able to look through a window and see where their food came from.


Do you have an inspiration tip or quote to help motivate our listeners to reach into that dirt and start their own garden?

one that I love

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it; Begin it now
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

The moment one commits oneself then Providence moves too and all matter of things or material assistance moves in one favor that one would otherwise would have dreamed or come their way so whatever you can do or dream you can begin it now.

a guy that he was quoting Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe quoting Faust by  William Hutchison Murray was a Scottish mountain climber as people were asking him how he decided to do these big mountain climbs.

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About the author, Jackie Marie

I'm an artist and educator. I live at the "Organic Oasis" with my husband Mike where we practice earth friendly techniques in our garden nestled in the mountains of Montana.

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