Growing A Social Network For Gardeners At 60

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Editor's note: Lisa Marini Finerty passed away this morning in Rome after a battle with cancer. She will be sorely missed by the entrepreneurial and girl geek community in the Bay Area, and our thoughts are with her family and friends. By Lisa Marini Finerty (Founder, YourGardenShow)

The team behind the Web 2.0 social network for gardeners at YourGardenShow are not 20-year olds who grew up with the Internet and mobile devices. We're actually a husband and wife team who grew up navigating the Dewey Decimal system, and have a century of life experience between us.

We may not look like the prototypes of the world’s new technocratic elite, but are definitely keeping with the pace.

There is a new audience coming to gardening these days -- people who are eager to become stewards of the "footprints" they live on, responsible for their local beauty, economy and for the environment -– and whose popular culture includes a grander sense of elitism for gardening and cultivating. In Europe, people say they are "going gardening" as if they are going yachting. That sense of gardening privilege is starting to happen in the U.S.

We Launched YourGardenShow On Our 25th Wedding Anniversary

My husband and I launched YourGardenShow, a Web 2.0 social network for gardeners in 2010. Less than a year later, YourGardenShow was an award finalist at SXSW in the "Community" category, for "social networks and wikis that have quickly developed an extraordinarily active multi-user and exceptional following of users."

We hope the website will support more and better gardeners, and so improve the public health for everyone. I am a Master Gardener, Kellog MBA and former stockbroker who loves gardening, with its combination and balance of tradition and new perspectives. Life-long hikers of the road less-traveled, my husband and I enjoy meeting interesting people from all over, and helping to build communities -– and so why not gardeners?

Angel investors were assembled by my accountant of 30 years, horticulture advisors are professionals and friends from a lifetime of gardening conversations, and YourGardenShow colleagues are people that we have worked with in other gigs, movements and businesses; it’s a passionate, loyal crowd.

The Genesis of YouGardenShow

YourGardenShow's origins can be traced in part to Umbria, Italy, and a small village of 600 residents who have been farming since the Roman Empire -– people who live by their agricultural wits. A modest organic farm outside this village is where we call home, having uprooted themselves and their teenage kids from suburban California back in 2002 to move to Italy. We arrived in historic Rome where I had lived as a child, with just suitcases in hand for a year-long horizon-broadening experience.

Fast forward to 2010, when we move half way across the world and are living out of a suitcase -- again. Our relocation from rural Italy to downtown San Francisco immerses us in yet another new culture. We learned about "being granular" and how to optimize the "viral coefficient"; we’ve learned about "geotagging", "4G" technology, and the new importance of HTML5 in our lives. We’ve actually learned another complete language.

Life In A Startup

The responsibility of building a technology company that can sustain itself for the next "iteration" of communications development, has myself sitting in a shared room, with 2 others on Skype calls, desk piled with notebooks, garden journals and two computer screens. I sit back after practically reeling from a call in which I had to quickly determine the difference between a "raw link" and a "back link" on a web page. As it turns out, it took just a few minutes for me to get up to speed on that one! All in a day's work.

We're quick studies. One other important thing stands out about my co-founder and I is that we take risks... even when it's risky. When life has presented us with an opportunity, we have grabbed it, even if the timing wasn't quite right. So when the only way to transform our idea of a global gardening network into a reality was to dive right into the high-tech world of start-ups in Silicon Valley, we just did it. It's like living as a student again -- late nights, communal meals, non-stop activity -- but, four decades hence, with computers instead of text books.

YourGardenShow is the culmination of my life-long passion for gardening, networking and community building, along with my co-founder's vision of an accessible, enjoyable and well-designed website. Both of us want to make things better because we touched it.

What made it all possible is our openness to change and to the unfamiliar. We consider ourselves life-long learners. Life isn't a destination, it's what you do along the way.

Editor's note: Lisa Marini Finerty passed away this morning in Rome after a battle with cancer. She will be sorely missed by the entrepreneurial and girl geek community in the Bay Area, and our thoughts are with her family and friends. About the guest blogger: Lisa Marini Finerty is Founder of YourGardenShow, a Web 2.0 social network for gardeners. Lisa is a Master Gardener and community activist. Her career started at the Chicago Board of Trade, then to neighborhood redevelopment and educational reform, to newsletter publishing. In 2007, Lisa established SecretGardensItaly, a specialist tour company focused on historic gardens. Lisa holds an MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. Follow her startup on Twitter at @YourGardenShow.