‘I Have to Try to Help Myself’: Longtime Farmer Says COVID-19 Should Be a Lesson to Encourage Everyone to Grow Their Own Food

The holidays are right around the corner and that means good eating. One Pompano Beach, Florida farmer hopes you will add something fresh to your meals this year.

“I’ve been doing this since I was six years old,” said Pompano Beach, Florida farmer Millie Riley.

Riley’s garden can be found at the end of a mile-long road, tucked in the heart of the Gold Coast. Her illustrious two acres of land are filled with Caribbean-inspired herbs, fruits and vegetables, some that she told Atlanta Black Star would be good to incorporate into holiday meals. 

“I’m from Jamaica,” explained Riley. “I taught myself [how to farm] from just six years old.” 

Riley is nearly 80 years old but she works her garden alone. She explained that farming is a way of life in Jamaica and now the only way she knows how to make a living in the States.

“This is papaya,” she said, pointing to a large tree of fruit. “And look, there’s the scallions.” 

Riley added that while business has been slow to come since the pandemic, she‘s still committed to the ground and shows up before sunrise every day.

“I have to try to help myself. I don’t get social security. I don’t get nothing. I don’t get no money.”

Riled added that that’s one reason why all families should grow their own food — to become self-sufficient. Every meal she prepares and eats comes from her own garden. She said farming also helps burn calories and relieve stress.

“It keeps me very healthy,” Riley said.

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