Living Green: EarthBox inventor

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Posted: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 11:47 am | Updated: 1:13 pm, Wed Jul 31, 2013.

MANATEE COUNTY - While the rest of the country gets ready for winter, Floridians prepare for growing season. With the help of something called an EarthBox, just about anyone can grow fruits, vegetables and herbs in their backyard.

Not too long ago, ABC 7 caught up with the man who invented the EarthBox, Manatee County native Blake Whisenant. "I want to show you my okra.  These okra will grow 12 feet high in this box," says Whisenant.

The 82 year old Whisenant is not interested in retirement. "Well I intend to do this until I die, it's not my intent to retire, just enjoy it."

He's having too much fun showing off the crops at his EarthBox Research Center in Ellenton. Blake's family has been farming in Manatee County for more than a century. Back in 1991, heavy rains ruined his tomato crop. That's when the idea for an EarthBox was born. "I came in the house and told my wife before I die, I want to build me a box above the ground that won't drown.  And so I got fascinated with it, I started it, I used all my wife's clothes, dishes, anything I could find to make a box out of and from that, we're doing what we're doing now, we've got boxes all over the world," says Whisenant.

"See how pretty it is and how clean it is. Not an aphid on it or anything whatsoever! No dirt on it, off the ground, we enjoy that very much, couple leaves like that I can cook me up a little pot of green stew, good eating," says Whisenant proudly.

Blake's EarthBoxes are the perfect little growing machines. With a water reservoir on the bottom and soil and fertilizer on the top, you don't need a green thumb to produce a prize crop with these. "I have 6 & 7 year old kids that grow because once they put it in that box, you don't have to add anymore fertilizer, you just have to water it."

The EarthBoxes cost less than $40, or you can buy a kit that includes soil, fertilizer, cover and other materials you need to get started for about $50. If you'd like more information, visit www.earthbox.com.

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