February’s Featured Gardener

Hello everyone!

I am excited to publish my first Feature on Gardenoir! Please help me welcome Benny to the community…

Name: Benny
Home city: Tampa, Florida
Hardiness Zone: 9/10
Gardening or Farming: Gardening

What made you start gardening?

“After I left the Marines in 2000, I felt something missing in my life. I felt the need to do more, so I started to read books on gardening and landscaping. I actually used to own a small landscaping business and I really enjoyed being outside and working with my guys…it really helped me to appreciate life and just in general watching something you love grow with time and patience.”

Why do you think gardening is important to our community?

“We work inside our offices and we rush inside to our AC and technology. I just personally think as a society we need to get back in touch with the land and Mother Earth. We need to teach our kids and show them the ways. It’s a great family bonding experience to eat something you have grown… I feel it’s important to get in touch with nature and learn how to create with our hands.”

What do you like to plant? What are some new things you have been experimenting with?

“I would have to say I have been playing around with Bok Choy. A friend of mine challenged me and said that I could not successfully grow it in Florida which is Zone 9. Bok Choy likes a little chill. Can’t wait to taste them.”

Awesome. What advice would you give to the novice gardener/farmer? What would you say to convince people that gardening is something to try?

“Good questions. Start small. Grow what you and your family will eat. Don’t spend [a lot of] money, everything for the most part for someone just starting out is free. Recycle seeds from tomatoes and peppers. Soil and water. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use Youtube or visit your local library. I would say gardening is like money in the bank. You can produce enough fresh veggies for your entire family in time and with a little effort. You are what you put into your body. We don’t know what’s in our food. Natural is the way to go.”

Benny enjoys planting from both seeds and existing plants and trees. He also enjoys sharing his harvest with friends and family by cooking from garden to table. He is excited to see how his new peach tree will do this year. And oh, the Bok Choy… I can’t wait for an update.

Benny’s Gardening Life in Pictures

Benny has been gracious enough to provide us with some photos of some of his work. The captions are his words and they express a sense of happiness and pride in what he does. I found joy myself as I was looking through his work. Click on the pictures below to see his stories…

I hope to have more for you about Benny’s harvest as the season progresses. I am wishful that he will have some more stories and great advice for us. Thanks, Benny!


Forty Acres and a Mule

Shortly after the abolition of slavery in 1865, Union leaders met with Black ministers in Southern Georgia to discuss provisions for newly freed slaves. As part of reparations for years of enslavement, the government set aside approximately 400,000 acres of Confederate land and divided mules left over from the war in what is now known as “Forty Acres and a Mule.”

There was one problem. Well, more, but let’s get to the obvious…

The provisions offered up to 40 acres of tillable land to an individual. Although difficult to pinpoint an exact number, the number of freed slaves reached 3 million. Needless to say, not everyone received reparations.

Those that did receive those 40 acres hoped that it would serve as a gateway to freedom and afford them to opportunity to break away from the bondage that held them tightly for so long. History tells us that this was not often the case, but as always, we found a way to make something from what we were given.

The meager 400,000 acres allotted to only a fraction of free Blacks paved the way for major agriculture in America. Sadly, only about 2% of farmers are Black today. Planting and harvesting for sustainability and financial independence has become a lost art among African-Americans. I remain hopelessly wishful that more people of color will choose to go back to farming.


Late 19th Century Farmers.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me! I look forward to sharing my personal journey with you…

Do you have a story you’d like to share about your experiences with farming or gardening? Contact me for the chance be featured on Gardenoir!


Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton