Spotlight on Small Businesses: Love & Carrots


Love & Carrots has grown 15% since the start of the pandemic. Photo: Sofia Gaviria ’23.

Love & Carrots is a small business that brings life to thousands of vegetable gardens for customers in the Washington area. Families looking to grow their own vegetables and restaurants cultivating their own produce often turn to Love & Carrots, especially as vegetable gardens are a convenient option for urban settings like Washington. Fitting easily in small backyards or rooftops, Love & Carrots helps build vegetable gardens that are efficient, tasty and environmentally friendly.

Founded in 2011, the business grew from Founder Meredith Sheperd’s passion for the environment and food. According to their website, raising “awareness about sustainability and biodiversity” and making “urban environments more conducive to healthy living” are just two of Love & Carrots’ goals. 

Sheperd began Love & Carrots in an effort to help others reduce their environmental impact. “Every garden we plant is a small step toward reducing our carbon footprint and positively impacting the District as a whole,” she explained. 

Partner and Chief Operating Officer Julia Umiker wrote that she decided to get involved with the organization because it “was actually creating something with a tangible positive impact.” After all, Sheperd emphasized, “people choose what to eat at least three times a day.”

Sheperd emphasized the health benefits to gardening — “Not just from the food you’re eating, but it’s exercise, and you’re getting outside,” she said. 

“It’s our new reality that spending time outdoors is the safest way to be with our friends and family, so we want those spaces to be beautiful and bountiful,” Umiker added.

Unlike many other small businesses navigating the pandemic, Love & Carrots has grown in the past two years, expanding by almost 15%, according to Sheperd. This growth, Sheperd said, is credited to “a whole new group of homeowners, who I think normally wouldn’t think of starting a vegetable garden but decided to because they were home more and because there were food shortages.” 

This addition of new home-owning clients made up for one of the more significant negative effects of the pandemic: losing restaurant clients. Restaurants were abandoned for months beginning in March 2020, and without customers, there was no need for produce. “Restaurants used to be about 30% of my maintenance lines, and that dropped down to 1% overnight — which was scary,” Sheperd explained.

By expanding its client base, however, Love & Carrots has recovered while continuing to spread sustainable values.