Food, crafts and lifestyle maven Martha Stewart is eco-conscious and diligent about conservation in her business operations at home. "We have a little ecosystem going. We take all the scraps from the kitchens. Martha Stewart Living has a lot of kitchens. We have the 'Everyday Food' kitchen, the 'Whole Living' kitchen, the 'Weddings' kitchen. They make a lot of cakes and I have a lot of eggshells. And we have our 'Martha Stewart Living' kitchen. I take home all the scraps, every vegetable scrap," she says. "I grow pretty much everything I eat, and I have a cold greenhouse, in which I grow all my greens — my spinach, my lettuces, celery — all winter long. And then in the spring and summer and fall, I have large gardens outside. So that's one way that I try very, very hard to minimize the buying of nonorganic food. And I keep an organic garden also. There are no sprays. It's hard to have an organic garden, but I've worked very hard at it."
Stewart takes pride in doing "a tremendous amount of composting. "Bedford, New York, is very avant‑garde in terms of organic growers. We are having a composting day, and a group is coming to see my composting, and we're going around to different farms and homes that do serious composting. I do it very, very religiously and diligently. I find it very important to give back to the soil what you're taking out of it. I have horses and donkeys and chicken manure, and all of that goes into the compost. I also have a tremendous amount of green matter, grass, old hay, noninvasive weeds that go into the compost and get used to mulch and go back into the garden soil."
In that garden, Stewart grows "a lot of things from cuttings. "When I find something unusual, there's an indigenous, tiny, yellow tomato that grows in the Galapagos, and I brought back the seeds, and I've been growing those Galapagos tomatoes, which I love," she says. "I do a lot with Seed Savers, who have been saving all over the world the endangered species so that we keep up biodiversity. All of that is important to me, and I hope that someday I'll be able to do a gardening show, too, that talks a lot more about that kind of stuff."
Growing a garden not only beautifies, she believes; it's an investment in the future. "I don't plant any annual flowers, for example. I would much rather plant perennials that will grow and I can divide and add to the rest of my property. Of course I have 150 acres to beautify, so it's a little more difficult. But I work at it all the time. And I'm a fanatic about planting trees. And I don't have to start with the big tree. I found out that a smaller tree actually grows faster than a bigger, expensive tree. So now I'm putting in seedling trees everywhere. I plant thousands of trees every single year and try to re‑establish a forest in my area rather than planting big trees that will just maybe add a little bit. So there's lots of stuff like that you can do." In line with her interest in land and natural resource preservation, she works with Maine Coast Heritage Trust "and a few other environmental kinds of things that I care very much about."
For her kitchens, Stewart believes in "choosing the very finest, best ingredients that if possible, is sustainably produced and organically grown. I talk about buying organic when you can, but it is expensive. That's why if you have a plot of ground, grow something to eat. Teach your kids how to grow."
She imparts that message, among others, in her new PBS series, "Martha Stewart's Cooking School," inspired by her book of the same name and premiering Oct. 6. "It really is both basic and also extremely informative about the techniques that everybody needs to know about cooking," she says. "I talk a lot about equipment and about what kinds of equipment are good to use, basic equipment."
Hulu and Hulu Plus viewers can also find Stewart online via "From Martha's Kitchen" and "DIY Crafts," including recipes, techniques, entertaining ideas and craft projects, gift ideas and scrapbooking, respectively. Stewart's expanding empire doesn't stop at cooking and crafts. Now that she's a grandmother, she's become obsessed with babies, and not surprisingly, "My daughter and I are working on a children's business now."