Drops of water glistening on leaves; the earthy smell of soil; green, succulent foliage. Pink petals; bees buzzing; a sweet floral aroma wafting in the air. These sensations are what brings Jasmine Jefferson back to her childhood.
Jasmine comes from a multi-generational family of gardeners and considers herself well-rounded from growing up surrounded by an array of gardening pursuits. Her grandparents and mother grew their own food and ornamentals – everything from roses and lilies to tropical and native flowers, as well as fruit trees. After it rained, she would often join her mother and grandmother to garden while the soil was moist and easy to work with.
She recalls a day when her mom stopped on the side of the road to dig up an elephant’s ear plant to propagate. Where she grew up in Florida, many of our commonly loved houseplants grow wild, so the car was always prepped with a shovel and bags for foraging plants. She didn’t realize how normal gardening was in her life until one day when Jasmine’s mom made her regular plant pit-stop, and one of Jasmine’s friends asked what she was doing.
As often is the case with things we take for granted as kids, Jasmine admits to not wanting to have anything to do with gardening for a period of time. It wasn’t until after her grandmother passed away and she began taking care of plants that her passion re-ignited. Eager to find a community of gardeners, she attended local gardening clubs but was not able to find people who looked like her. Thus, in 2017, Black Girls with Gardens (BGWG) came to fruition.
Black Girls With Gardens
“I created Black Girls with Gardens to provide representation, inspiration, support, and education to women (and girls) of color navigating in gardening. I wanted to come together and be a source for people who look like myself to help us feel a little more comfortable in places that we typically wouldn’t feel comfortable in and have a space to talk about gardening. People of color associated growing food with slavery and I wish to assist my community to understanding that we grew food long before slavery.”
Jasmine has BGWG members from all over the world and aims for the community to reach every corner of the internet. She has also expanded her platform and created Black Kids with Gardens. She believes that gardens are the perfect place for allowing kids to be themselves, discover what they are interested in, and have fun while learning. She hopes to inspire Black kids by celebrating and showing examples of thriving Black gardeners, letting them know that gardening is more than possible, whether it be as a passion project or full-time career.
“If you are interested in gardening, you can definitely do it. There are so many different avenues and there is no one way a gardener is supposed to look.”
Her content showcases how gardening is accessible, creative, and diverse. On her website and social media pages, you’ll find useful tips and how-tos such as Black Owned Seed Companies To Try, An Intro To Indoor Edible Gardening, and How To Choose Your First House Plant.
Her suggestions for anyone new to gardening are:
- Start small
- Don’t feel intimidated to reach out for help
- If you feel like you failed, just keep trying
Black Girls with Gardens also hosts Facebook groups for members to discuss problems, share what they’re growing, and cultivate community. As for Jasmine, she loves learning about fertilizer, biological pesticides, and creating your own ecosystem; sharing about houseplants; and growing culturally-important foods. Her garden and kitchen are filled with fish peppers, mustard greens, collard greens, cabbage, okra, and efo shoko (Nigerian/Lagos spinach or Celosia), a spinach-like green that originated in Africa.
She recommends gardeners to “think about what you love to eat or your family loves to eat –you're way more motivated to grow something you love.”
For more inspiration from Black gardeners, Jasmine suggests checking out: