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‘Instead of Buying Constantly’: Florida Gardener Encourages Black People to Create Food Security One Seed at a Time

More and more people are planting gardens in urban neighborhoods, with many saying their motivation was tied to the current pandemic. But Danita Ashby of Tampa, Florida, said she started planting her dream garden before the virus outbreak and hopes to encourage more people to create their own food security.

“Instead of buying constantly, I thought, ‘Why not grow my own?’” Ashby told Atlanta Black Star recently. “It’s easier, it’s healthier, I don’t have to worry about the grocery store running out, because I know that I’ll have.”

Ashby has been gardening for two years. Her current garden is located in her backyard.

“You saw my basil, this is my rosemary — I have mint in the front of the house,” she said as she walked through her garden. “This is my papaya tree, I have yucca and banana.”

Ashby told Atlanta Black Star she handpicked her produce based on health benefits.

“The yucca is like a potatoes, so it grows underground. The yucca boosts immunity, it eases arthritis pain, and the extracts from yucca is used in a lot of household products like lotion, shampoo, conditioner,” she explained.

Now she spends time tending to her garden in her subtropical climate zone every day for inspiration and to relieve stress.

“It’s really relaxing, believe it or not,” said Ashby. “It’s very relaxing and very therapeutic to just garden, and it’s an amazing feeling to see something that you planted grow. That’s an awesome feeling.”

However, Ashby told Atlanta Black Star it took awhile to find out how to create the garden of her dreams.

“My main thing was, truthfully, the expense because the pots that I got were $15 a pot, and it’s a lot that I have, so it got a little expensive.”

She says she was determined to create her own food security and help her family. But now she has enough to share with her neighbors.

“I’ve been growing more to help the community,” Ashby said. “Before, I was just growing for my family and friends. Now, I’m able to share and teach other people how to grow stuff, which is a wonderful feeling.”

Ashby says she wants to see more people in the community grow their own food and become independent. She recommends new gardeners start small and then expand.

“Get a little pot; you can get seeds from the Dollar Tree four packs for a dollar,” she explained. “You can always get started with that. I just purchased some cucumbers, four packs for a dollar, so I’m going to plant some cucumbers.”

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