Reed Newman, the 28-year-old owner of Revival Roots, first discovered his green thumb during childhood trips from Los Angeles to his family’s Santa Ynez ranch, where his parents, entertainment attorney Jeanne Newman and former Fox Broadcasting Co. chairman Gary Newman, grew grapes, olives and other vegetables. After getting his bachelor’s degree at Cornell University’s school of agriculture, Newman was inspired by a backyard dinner at a family friend’s house, where he learned that the vegetables they were grilling not only came from their own home garden, but that their garden was tended to by a woman who specialized in growing produce.
“[I thought], ‘Let’s create a service that helps people accomplish the goal of growing [their own] vegetables,’ ” Newman says of his company that builds and maintains organic vegetable gardens, fruit tree orchards and edible landscapes for homeowners in Los Angeles.
Thanks to word-of-mouth referrals since Newman launched in 2016, Revival Roots has blossomed into a business that manages roughly 85 gardens around L.A. for many entertainment industry clients, including CAA’s Bryan Lourd and husband Bruce Bozzi, Lee Daniels, Ryan Murphy, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson and husband Justin Mikita.
During a complimentary initial consultation, Reed works to find out what a client’s “needs and desires are for food,” he says. “Is it something fun that they want to teach their kids about? Or is it that they really want to replace going to the grocery store?” Generally, the cost of one custom 3-by-7-foot planter installation, plus the soil, labor, trellis materials and seeds totals $2,200. Newman’s team of seven are specialists in different branches of the business: Some are certified arborists and others actively care for the gardens, visiting them and maintaining their health.
“Some [clients] want us to come once a week, and we’ll make sure the garden is big, bountiful and productive. We’ll learn about what they eat, what they consume, and we offer different seasonal varieties they get to pick and choose. And then we keep those growing,” Newman explains. “For those who want to garden themselves more, we also offer a seasonal program where we just plant for them, help them with the actual structure and then they take over after that.”
The team plants by seasonality, and this fall, broccolini, napa cabbage, beets, snap peas and watermelon radish are particularly popular. Revival Roots also plants and maintains fruit trees and a variety of berries including strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and passion fruit.
On Earth Day in April, Newman launched his offshoot company, Revival Roots Nursery, located in South L.A., which ships organically grown seedlings of vegetables and herbs directly to customers’ doorsteps. “The genesis of this came from a lot of people having negative gardening experiences, and the primary cause of that was a lack of access to high-quality seedlings,” Newman says. “Often plants bought at Home Depot or other big box stores can be sitting out for months, not properly cared for.” The nursery donates larger plants that go unsold to EnrichLA, an organization that builds and maintains vegetable gardens in schoolyards around the city.
Naturally, one of the largest barriers to a flourishing garden is the drought in the West. Every Revival Roots garden is installed with drip irrigation, which is usually exempt from water restrictions because it minimizes H2O usage. Says Newman, “In terms of trends … water has been the biggest issue.”
Each home garden’s needs are different, and Revival Roots’ focus on customization lends itself to that. “Every house and garden has its own microclimate,” Newman explains, adding that the specialists on his team check the path of the sun, wind patterns, and more to decide how and where to best plant seeds and set roots. “Every garden is a little different. A garden in Pacific Palisades is different from one in Los Feliz.”
This story first appeared in the Oct. 19 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.